Sunday, May 13, 2012

Budget Season in Davidson

Tuesday evening is the public hearing on the 2012-2013 Davidson Town budget, and with  Mi-Connection once again being the 800lb gorrila in the room, the Town will be tempted to go back to the taxpayer well for more money.  As stated in the by the Town Manger in the draft budget message...

"Growth in revenues is helping the Town move towards it's goal of financial stability and responsible stewardship.  Until our committment to MI Connection is reduced we will not be able to achieve this goal.
Until we see significant new revenue generation or a reduction in MI Connection requests, we will be unable to fund these items or achieve your financial stability and responsible stewardship goal."

I would beg to differ with that statement - especially when it comes to "responsible stewardship".  That is always an achievable goal.  Before anything like additional tax or fee increases is considdered to provide new revenue, hard choices need to be made. 

Here are some examples that could recoup amounts equal to a 1 cent property tax increase - $161,000.  My guess is that more could be found if needed. These funds could be redirected to capital improvements or any other use. 

In the event the Town is able to gain some relief on the Mi-Connection front, this should not be treated as "found money".  After years of new solid waste fees, much higher property tax rates than neighboring towns, and the recent revaluation that hit many households, any money recouped from Mi-Connection should be used reduce those hardships wherever possible. 

One example would be to lower the Davidson rate to 31.25c/$100.  That would get Davidson's rate more in line with that of Cornelius.  We hear all the time that Davidson is special, and we should be willing to pay more.  I agree, and 31.25c is still 25% more than in Cornelius.  That seems special enough to me.

These types of choices could be made without negative impact to citizens if the political will is there. The question is really about priorities.

UPDATE:  Per follow-up with the Town, the College payment in lieu was $45,000 in FY2010-2011, not $40,000.

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