Elkton Town Workshop, May 12, 2010 — The Mayor and Commissioners gave the nod to approving a tax rate of .4734 per $100 for the upcoming fiscal year, which is at the constant yield. The current rate, which is about a penny lower, is .464 per $100. This is an unusual year because the drop in property assessments created a higher constant yield, a number that is designed to produce the same amount of revenue for a jurisdiction, according to the Steven Repole, Elkton’s financial officer.
When the mayor tried to take a straw vote to see if the board was okay with the proposed levy long slow minutes of silence ticked by as he asked the elected officials several times if they would support the new buget. Commissioner Mary Jo Joblanski, busy concentrating deeply on the spreadsheets, said “I’m still looking at the numbers.” “Do we have to vote on it now?” Commissioner Piner queried. After being told that the town needed to make its budgets available for public inspection Friday, he spoke about going with the old rate, which was a penny lower. As the discussion stopped, quiet filling the room, the mayor asked again for an answer while an audience of nearly a dozen people anxiously waited for a decision.
Punctuating one of those pauses the finance officer reminded them that although the new assessment value was a penny higher they were still receiving the same amount of property revenue. “We’re already short as it is” Mayor Fisona added. “Although it went up a penny, we’re taking in the same amount as last year. If we don’t we’re going to loose money,” the mayor continued.
Town expenditures exceeded proposed revenue by nearly $1,300,000 for the upcoming budget and that was based on the additional penny in the levy. To cover the gap, the town is dipping into its reserves as it did last year. If Elkton were to take in less money, it would have to rework the budget and look at cuts. “What do you think Charlie,” the mayor asked in trying to urge a decision. Commissioner Givens shot back, “Well what do you think mayor.” Finally, after a few more moments lapsed and another request for a decision was put on the table, the seemingly reluctant commissioners gave the nod to go ahead with the rate of 0.4734 per $100.
Focusing on Efficiencies & Cost Savings
With that decision, one directly affecting taxpayers and voters, freshly on their minds, the subject of expense control came up. Commissioner Givens had been pouring over the budget highlights so he asked about the justification of an additional position in human resources. “We had one, we had two, now we want three,” Commissioner Piner added as he joined that discussion. Several times this evening Commissioner Piner noted that the town needs to start finding efficiencies rather than looking to the taxpayers when costs go up.
When the potential of additional expenses to the town for waste collection came up, Commissioner Piner remarked, “We need to look at what we’re doing before we start going to the taxpayers.” He kept going back to that subject as he and Commissioner Givens inquired about some additional outlays for the town.
It is unusual to have anyone attending workshops since historically the subjects under consideration aren’t advertisied and the public isn’t allowed to comment. As we reported earlier the town for the first time in recent years advertised it’s agenda this evening, but remarks from the audience weren’t allowed.