Ocean View adopts proposed budget

The Ocean View Town Council voted unanimously on Tuesday to adopt the proposed 2010-fiscal-year budget and capital improvement plan.

Highlights of the budget include paying off the loan for the public safety building, at a savings of $82,000 in payments each year; tax increases of 47 percent, or 8 percent per year over five years; resizing the public safety department by one less employee, when attrition occurs; substantial budget reductions in the non-employee-related cost areas; halting pay raises for this year; and reallocating employee benefits over the next five years.

Mayor Gordon Wood thanked Town Manager Conway Gregory and outgoing Councilman Roy Thomas for all of their work, and Councilman Richard Nippes added that citizen input from members of the Long Range Financial Planning Committee had been invaluable.

Councilman Perry Mitchell added that, although he wasn’t completely happy with the budget, he would vote for it.

The budget proposed a much more conservative outlook for transfer tax revenues, since they have decreased dramatically in recent years and since Ocean View’s budget goal for them for this fiscal year – $480,000 – will not be met.

Council members decided to keep transfer taxes steady for three years, at $450,000 in budgeted revenue, and then raise them to $500,000 and $550,000 in years four and five. This was something the council and many members of the public agreed was the right thing to do.

“The biggest change is reducing our dependence on the transfer tax,” said Nippes. “We set the tone for the transfer tax with the flat-line number [for the first two years] that we think is attainable.”

Resident Steve Cobb commended the council for working together on the budget but added that he still thinks too much has been budgeted for transfer tax. “I’m not that optimistic,” he said.

Wood noted that the budget still has the town spending considerably more than they take in for the 2010, 2011 and 2012 fiscal years – $500,000, $371,000 and $459,000, respectively – but as of 2013, they have projected to spend $12,000 less than they take in. In 2014 and 2015, projected spending would be at $58,000 less and $87,000 less than revenue, respectively.

“This budget is based on a lot of assumptions that could change, but we are taking the steps now,” said Wood.

The meeting adjourned a mere 20-some minutes after starting, with a round of applause at the swift acceptance of the budget ordinance and the council’s workmanship on the plan.

“It’s 7:24 p.m. I’m astounded,” commented Wood with a laugh.