Two weeks ago, Finance Commissioner Matt McCabe said the city had some tough decisions to make in reconciling the 2007 budget. Tuesday night, the public weighed in on those decisions.
The proposed tax rate for the proposed budget is $5.01 per thousand of assessed value, nearly a 6 percent increase from 2006. Under the proposed budget, a home assessed at $200,000, would have a tax bill of $1,002 in 2007. The total tax levy is $13.2 million. For people with a $200,000 home, taxes would go up $56.
City resident John Kraus of Grand Avenue said he found this unacceptable. We just can't accept the 6 percent increase in the tax rate, he said. "Where are the pluses to this?" Kraus suggested people shift their focus from the charter revision debate to reducing taxes, "Now is the time to act. Reduce the posturing, reduce the rhetoric and reduce the 2007 tax rate," he said.
Kraus suggested across-the-board salary and budget decreases, as well as a possible government "shut down" for one day a year.
Dave Bronner, city resident and outspoken critic of Public Works Commissioner Thomas McTygue, asked whether or not the DPW needed the number of employees and vehicles it currently retains. "If we can afford to park a dump truck to block access to personal property," Bronner said in regard to a DPW vehicle that was used for six weeks to block a development just off the corner of Bingham Street and Martin Avenue, "then maybe we should look at the number of vehicles we actually need."
McTygue defended his department, noting it has taken financial hits just like everyone else. He said that the number of employees in the DPW has increased by only one in the past 10 years and that he sought to promote eight individuals from part-time to full-time but was denied because it would cost the city close to $60,000 in salaries to do so.