Monday, June 28, 2010

Week in Review 6/20/10 - 6/25/10

This week was a bit light in regards to council responsibilities.

On Tuesday I met with our town Budget Director, Scott Fogleman to discuss a couple of outstanding concerns I had regarding the proposed FY 2011 budget.

I first want to thank all of our town staff - especially the budget department for all their hard work in presenting council with a very conservative budget that holds the line on taxes and keeps garbage, recycling, and yard waste fees unchanged. Water and sewer fees unfortunately will increase about 7% to fund the state-mandated Western Wake Water Reclamation Facility.

My concerns are that appropriations exceed projected revenues by roughly $1 million, and that council members decided to increase each council member’s travel allowance $326 a year (Mayor Pro Tem gets a $390 increase). Each council member’s annual travel allowance is already $9300 a year.

The FY 2011 budget was adopted as presented by a vote of 5-1. Mayor Pro Tem Julie Robison was absent again.

I voted against the budget.

After meeting with Scott Fogleman, some (not all) of my concerns pertaining to appropriations vs. revenues were satisfied. Cary has a healthy fund balance (reserves) and ended this past year with about a $4 million surplus. So while we are still in very good shape, I still have concerns about how reducing fund balance now might impact us in years to come should the economy not improve. I also have concerns how the state’s $3 billion shortfall next year will impact Cary’s budget in following years (see previous post for more on this)

I remain disappointed that during these tough economic times the council chose to increase their compensation. Yes I know that in the grand scheme of thing it’s a drop in the bucket compared to the total budget, but it’s much bigger than that to me. It’s about principle.

Council last received travel allowance increases in 2008 and 2006. The average fuel cost in 2008 was $3.27 a gallon with a peak price of $4.11. In 2010 the average cost of a gallon of gas is $2.76. Gas costs less now than it did in 2008.

This was about increasing compensation without calling it a raise. I could not support that. If the council believes they deserve an increase in pay – as evidenced by one of my colleague’s “we don’t even make minimum wage” comments at our meeting - then they should call it what it is.

That’s about all for this week. As always, thanks for reading - I hope everyone is staying cool and safe during this heat-wave.