At last Monday’s meeting, the Council voted 5:2 to approve a budget which does not add one additional dime or one more inch of street work. The Council was given two opportunities to add funding for the work that should have been included in a budget had they not counted so strongly on the passage of the bond issues. The first opportunity was to adjust the budget to use of the excess sales taxes generated specifically for Capital Improvement, and the second opportunity was the transfer of funds from reserves to address streets that we were told were in urgent need of repair.
The increase in the City Manager’s budget, $168,000 for this year, exceeds the total amount of money in the Capital Improvement program for streets, $140,000! The money needed for funding the street and sidewalk work (roughly $400,000) is clearly available in the Capital Improvement Sales Tax Fund, but is being held as a “reserve” for some future, as yet unapproved, grant match, which would not in any case, be required before June 30, 2016. At that time we will have a new budget and will have collected another year’s worth of sales taxes for Capital Improvements. The sales tax revenues collected this fiscal year 2016 should be used for the street and sidewalk work in FY2016. Councilmember Crow and I proposed an amendment to use the excess sales tax money for its rightful purpose. This was rejected by Councilmembers Jennings, Kraft, Glickert and Sharpe, and Mayor Welsch.
The resolution to transfer reserve funds to address urgently needed street work was rejected by Councilmembers Jennings, Glickert, Sharpe and Mayor Welsch.
In April the streets were of paramount importance to those Councilmembers supporting the steets bond issues, but by June those members were uninterested in fixing our streets and sidewalks if we could not sell bonds to do so. Either the bond issues were not really needed, or it is easy to conclude this budget was designed to send a message of retaliation to our community for the failure of the bonds to pass. You should expect the tax money collected for Capital Improvement would be used to fix your streets as was intended by earlier Councils. You should be able to expect this Council to honor those promises.