The City FY18 Budget and What It Means to You!

The Mayor and Board of Aldermen just passed the Budget with little controversy or fanfare.  In the Mayor’s Budget Memo, he writes:  “While revenue is growing at a moderate pace, the increase in costs of goods and services continues to outpace available funds.”

That message is followed by the announcement of nearly $ 1 million in salary increases for City employees, new positions, and the need for new spending on capital projects like Hargett Farm/Westside Regional Park ($2 million).

The first plank of my platform is addressing our tax structure – the City-County Tax Differential, the need for a Senior Property Tax Credit and a Property Tax Cap.  I know how to read the Budget and I know there has been little discussion of the positive signs of revenue – but that’s politics.

The 10-year trend on property tax increases shows a $15 million increase since FY09 to today. And, the revenue from the personal income taxes paid by residents is up $2.6 million in those ten years.  That means our properties are worth more and we are making more.

What this Budget does not show is a true ability to afford the $98.5 million development costs of the Hargett Farm because after FY18, there is NO MONEY in the capital budget to development the park.

The commitment to “green projects” shows the same lack of commitment – they hired a sustainability manager, but don’t invest in any projects.  

They added a Code Enforcement employee to manage the historic district, but fail to acknowledge they have doubled the size of the department. They don’t show the results people expect with more spending with several CONDEMNED buildings just blocks from City Hall.
I don’t think this is effective leadership and it doesn’t reflect the need to restore basic services like Bulk Trash Pick Up or introducing new technologies which allow residents and business owners to make online payments and complete permit applications.

There is more to the budget, (stay tuned, but if the current administration tells you we don’t have enough money to run the City, tell them to look at your tax bill!