The Smyrna Finance Committee continued work on the 2013 budget in an Oct. 10 meeting.
The committee meeting started with a discussion on a recommendation from the Personnel Committee to bring on two new positions — warehouse clerk and assistant to the town manager — and the reclassification of a fleet mechanic, and water and sewer operator. However, this led to discussion on the actual budget.
Mayor Pat Stombaugh, chairman of the committee, said the proposed budget turned in by Town Manager Dave Hugg is roughly $1.2 million more than last year's $22 million budget.
Then the question was asked if the committee should discuss needs first or if there should be a tax increase. Last year the property tax increased 3.74 cents per $100 of assessed value, bringing the tax rate to 29 cents from 25.26 cents.
Councilman Anthony DeFeo asked if the "needs should dictate a tax increase or if the tax increase should dictate the needs."
Councilman Bob Johnson said the needs should dictate the tax increase: "We know there are certain positions we need, certain projects we need."
Stombaugh countered by asking why the town should have a tax increase at all. Johnson said there doesn't need to be a tax increase, but that would prevent the town from moving forward. DeFeo agreed with Johnson.
"These things are not going to go away. The need will continue to build up," DeFeo said.
The committee finalized the Capital Budget, which features projects over the next five years including project costs and funding sources. Some of the future projects of the town include the new police station, which won't really affect next year's budget, and the utility projects north of Duck Creek and to Commerce Street. The utility projects already have funding in place.
Police Chief Wil Bordley suggested putting together two budgets to present to council, one with a tax increase and one with no tax increase so "they get the big picture."
Stombaugh said she wants to invite council to the last Finance Committee meeting so they [Council] can ask questions then.
The meeting ended after two hours because Stombaugh said the town needs to update the proposed budget before more work can be done. The committee will meet again Wednesday, Oct. 17 at 6:30 p.m. in Town Hall.
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