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Smyrna/Clayton Sun-Times
  • Smyrna Council discusses town finances, 2014 budget at meeting

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  • The 2014 budget and the state of the Town of Smyrna's finances were the focus of the Smyrna Town Council meeting Monday night.
    Council members didn't take any action on the proposed 2014 budget; however, council did pass a motion to hold a public hearing on the proposed budget Monday, Dec. 2 at 7 p.m. prior to the regular council meeting.
    Councilman Robert Johnson spoke about the proposed 2014 budget, which includes possible increases for taxes and fees, during his Finance Committee report.
    "One thing the town hasn't done is decide what we want the town to look like," Johnson said. "Do we want to be big like Middletown or small?"
    Johnson said the town needs to take that question into consideration so the town can better budget for the future.
    "The [proposed] budget includes a little bit of everything in it and it shares the responsibility with everyone," Johnson said. "If you want to grow we're going to have to share the pain and the glory at the same time."
    Johnson said the Finance Committee will work on putting together a three-year plan for the town. He said this is something that hasn't been done before but needs to be done so town officials can prepare for the future. Johnson said planning a budget three years at a time will allow them to know where the costs are, and whether or not there will be increases in the future.
    "Planning for three years allows us to know what's going to increase so residents can plan accordingly," Johnson said.
    Vice Mayor Regina Brown thanked the citizens on the Finance Committee for their help in creating the proposed budget. Brown said there were two positions – human resources manager and junior accountant – that aren't included in the budget but need to be.
    "The committee felt that because the budget is tight we couldn't include those in the budget," Brown said. "I'm pleading to council to look for the funds whether it's additional taxes or further increases to the utilities."
    The topic of the town's finances came back up later in the meeting when Councilman Jeff Flairty brought up the idea of the town having a consent agenda.
    "I believe the council should be more aware of what the town is purchasing," Flairty said.
    He said considering how tight money is council should be better informed of what money is coming in and what money is going out.
    Several council members agreed. Mayor Joanne Masten said the council should either get quarterly or monthly reports. Councilwoman Andrea Rodriguez said whether it's through a consent agenda or a notification, council should be better aware of how the town is spending money.
    Page 2 of 2 - Town Manager Dave Hugg said he has no problem keeping council informed but requiring town managers to inform council of every new contract, purchase over a set amount, new hires and promotions would be council's way of micromanaging the managers of the town.
    "If a sewer pump blows in Green Meadows or the transmission drops out of the dump truck, I don't have time to wait and be put on an agenda for approval," Hugg said. "If it snows, I'm going to plow. You need to be careful you aren't unnecessarily tying the hands of the people you pay to manage the town."
    Email Jennifer Dailey at jennifer.dailey@doverpost.com.
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