In a relatively brief meeting, the TOSS Council passed the new budget by a 3 to 2 vote. Instead of the .09 (cent per $100) recommended by the Town Manager, they passed the budget with the same .0975 rate as this past year.
So the net result of the past four months of turmoil along with considerable cuts in services (Ocean Rescue, Recycling, Chipping Program, and Volunteer Fire Dept.) is: nil ----zilch -----nada. Perhaps Mayor Smith is correct, if I may quote him (OBXAlert.blogspot.com) “This comes under the category of you can't make this stuff up”.
Now, the question is, can our services be restored? Probably not. Although the same tax rate was retained, so was the spending plan as designated in the Town Manager's original .09 budget. This gives TOSS a buffer of around $180,000.00, against further loss of revenue or funds to apply to Capital Improvements. We'll just have to wait and see what impacts there are from the service cuts. Retained in the new budget is Council compensation totaling $18,600 plus FICA, roughly equivalent to the cost of the two Lifeguards that were cut from the Ocean Rescue contract.
While reading a prepared statement before the budget discussion, Mayor Smith referred twice to a former council member. Commenting that this individual, 1.“voted for 40% of tax increases” and then that this person, 2. “recently suggested a .10 tax rate”. I confess, he was referring to me.
You be the judge, am I guilty or innocent as charged?
I voted on every TOSS budget during my tenure, and some of those did include tax increases. But as noted in the TOSS Minutes of June 24, 2005, I voted against the budget which included a .01 increase from the revenue neutral rate. So, I don't believe I'm responsible for the full “40%” increase. I'm not even going to try and figure out whether the 40% is accurate or not.
At one of the recent meetings I spoke at the Public Comment session regarding my personal analysis of the proposed budget. My comment s were essentially the same as you find in my post of May 16 on this blog under the title of Conclusions, with one exception. At the end of my statement, in a facetious manner I said (referring to Council compensation) “Why don't you go ahead and round that (tax rate) off to .10 and give yourselves a good raise. I don't think I'll miss the extra $9.26 this year”.
Again I wish to thank those council members that decided to err on the side of common sense and reason. Thanks go to Brian McDonald, Jodi Hess and Jim Pfizenmayer. And, although he did vote against the budget I want to recognize Kevin Stroud for a valiant attempt at a compromise budget. After all, I also voted against a budget for reasons different than those expressed by the Mayor.