Discussions were heated Monday night at the special Smyrna Town Council meeting but still yielded no approved budget for 2012.
Town Council was unable to come to an agreement on a proposed tax rate or what should be included in the 2012 budget but were able to come to terms on the future of the police station. As for the actual 2012 budget, Town Council agreed to wait for the results from the arbitrator’s report regarding employee salaries for next year before finalizing the budget.
It took Town Council nearly three hours to come to the decision to postpone voting on the budget until the arbitrator’s report is submitted to the town. Councilwoman Regina Brown suggested waiting for the report because the arbitrator’s decision could have a major impact on the budget.
Town Manager Dave Hugg agreed with Brown; the budget currently includes the town’s proposed two-percent employee salary increase.
“The budget is built around what the town proposed, if the union prevails there would be some slight difference,” Hugg said.
Hugg said the town may or may not have a chance to retool the budget before the Monday, Dec. 5 Town Council meeting. Either way, he said the town will be able to inform Town Council of the impact of the report and where they need to go from there.
Future of the police station
The one thing the Town Council was able to make progress on is the status of a new police station. Discussions lasted an hour but Town Council voted 5-2 to put $30,000 towards engineering costs in the 2012 budget with Mayor Pat Stombaugh and Vice Mayor Bob Riddagh voting no.
Town Council voted 4-3 in favor of putting the new police station in the April ballot in the form of a referendum to get the community’s input. Councilwoman Regina Brown, Stombaugh and Riddagh voted against the referendum.
Brown said the members of Town Council were voted in office to make hard decisions such as a new police station; therefore, the decision shouldn’t be left to the community.
Councilman Anthony DeFeo, who made the motion for the referendum, countered stating it’s important to get the input of the community even though the final decision is up to the Town Council.
To raise or not to raise taxes…
While some council members don’t want a tax increase, other members are willing to approve one if it gives something back to the residents.
Stombaugh suggested council go back to the original proposed six-cent increase per $100 of assessed value, three-cents of which would go towards a new police station.
Page 2 of 2 - DeFeo suggested Town Council take the second proposed tax increase of 3.74-cents and increase it one-cent to 4.74 cents. DeFeo’s suggestion came on heel of his desire to add four items worth $70,000 to the budget – $30,000 for more library hours, $15,000 for part-time administrative employees, $15,000 for part-time IT employees, and $10,000 for park restoration.
Brown even suggested borrowing money from the rainy day fund – if the town is allowed to do so – to keep the town from raising taxes at all.
Choosing to wait
After hours of arguing over what should and should not be included in the budget, Town Council eventually decided to not make any more decisions for the evening.
Once they are presented the results of the arbitrator report Dec. 5, Hugg said Town Council will then once again discuss and possibly determine a tax increase and items to be included in the budget.
“If there’s a significant difference in the [arbitrator’s] report, we may need to pull a lot of things off the table,” Hugg said.
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