Ocean View Town Councilman Perry Mitchell believes he has something to offer the town in the way of the budget – and it doesn’t include a tax increase.
His “first draft” of a new financial plan for the town, with the goal of achieving $2.2 million in savings over five years, had only one employee being let go – as opposed to the two employee layoffs proposed in the town’s official draft budget. With his second try, with the same financial goals, he said he also found a way to keep police coverage at 24 hours, seven days a week, with no reduction in force; but that plan suggests employee furloughs. Both of Mitchell’s revisions so far offer no tax increases, he said.
“Furloughs of three days a month for town employees will be requested,” he wrote of his plan in his e-mail newsletter to select citizens. “Police officers will be asked to do two days a month. All employees must pull together to help the town, and the savings from furloughs will be applied to necessary expenditures, which were not foreseen, or if cost savings do not materialize as planned,” he added.
Not reducing the town’s police force in size or coverage is a change of heart for Mitchell, who had previously supported cutting at least two police positions.
“Most people that I have talked to like the idea of no tax increase,” he told the Coastal Point this week. “Some are living on fixed incomes and can’t afford even a small increase. Many retirees moved here because of low taxes and small government. Truth be told, some want to cut the two police officers, but I believe that retaining the two officers is the right thing to do now. Plus, I believe that it will get me support from two council members to vote in favor for this budget.”
“I am still working on a third try, and so it is a work in progress,” he added. “I am looking at savings produced by unpaid holidays and other items.”
Other highlights of Mitchell’s proposed financial plan include not paying off the existing loan taken out by the town to build the new public safety building – now in the process of being converted to also house town administration – and abolishing the town’s Emergency Trust Fund, adding $1.325 million to the town’s general fund.
“Every graduate course in public administration and finance says that it is not a good idea to have contingency funds,” he said. “If you have a contingency fund, it will be spent.” Also, regarding the public safety loan, he said it would be better planning to “keep fund liquidity during the hard economic times.”
“Why balance the budget on the backs of the taxpayer?” he asked rhetorically. “Why gut the taxpayers? Many are living on fixed incomes, and we don’t need to increase taxes when there are savings that have not been touched.”