To the Editor:
Why as a council member, I am voting NO tomorrow night on this budget. This meeting is open to the public.
The budget presented to the Town Council was mired in obfuscations, missing information and a lack of transparency. The town presented many questions which the first selectman could not answer.
A quick overview – shows spending up by 7%, Business revenue down by 4.5% (Since the economic development director position was cut last year Monroe lost 168 businesses and gained 140) and a proposed new bonding that would add 8 million dollars to our bond obligation over the next two years.
This budget includes a purportedly “streamlined” consolidated Planning and Building Group that includes Building, Inland Wetlands, Planning and Zoning, a new “Engineering department."
It actually creates 2.5 new jobs, and includes an increase of more than 615% increase in consulting fees. Also salaries are increased in some areas by over 15%. The Planning and Zoning Department spending increased by 16.71%, Inland Wetlands by 64.94% and “Engineering Department by 100% because it is new.
This not a streamlining it is an expansion. This new organization includes $26,500, in new consulting fees. The proposed new jobs and salaries were not accompanied by job descriptions and the Town Council was not provided new Job descriptions on which to approve new salaries.
This reorganization was not done according to charter rules. It is the town council’s purview to approve, new non-appointed positions, the corresponding salaries and new department. I will vote no to all of the above.
The first selectman’s budgets again draws down our undesignated fund even further by $370,000, which jeopardizes our bond rating, and leaving less than half of the recommended $7-7 1/5 million that is recommended. I will vote that any money we cut go into the undesignated fund balance for the future health of Monroe.
Again there is no one year or five year capital plan by the First Selectman. The First Selectman wants to bond close to $5 million in new bonds, $1 million of which will go to roads increasing its debt service over $100,000.00 or 127%. The new proposed bonding will also increase our current bond obligation from $60,650,672 to $68,338,072 in 2013.
I am not in favor of bonding for roads and suggest we add money for roads into the operating budget and not incur greater debt service that will be our future generation’s responsibility.
There are other areas which can be decreased such as Police Department overtime; it increased overtime while having added two officers. We talk about sacrifice, yet the budget includes $60,000 for Wolfe Park improvements, that’s $60,000 we could use for roads.
There are increases to non-essential departments while cutting money for the Assessor to conduct a business audit which the Tax Collector stated would yield $10 dollars for every $1 spent. If the true goal was to increase the tax base and
reduce everyone’s overall tax burden, cutting $15,000.00 which would produce $1 to $2 million, is not the way to do it.
This budget increases spending, drives up debt service, doesn’t fund revenue generating activity and lacks a capital plan making it incomplete. It greatly increases the planning and building function of the town by over a couple of hundred thousand dollars while it purports to streamline the process.
We need a forward thinking budget that makes the hard choices now to make a better and more affordable Monroe later.