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Following is the first in a series of "guest spots." From time to time I will invite councilmembers to use this page regarding matters they believe will be of interest to residents. - Ann Ferguson

by Mary Donaldson

Where are we - where are we going? As we approach the new millennium with a challenging budget, our priorities must be in order. Currently, services the town maintains are: 24 hour police protection; general government services that provide government officials and staff to administer everyday operations and represent property owners at federal, state, and county levels as needed; full service public works; full time code enforcement to monitor maintenance of properties and compliance with town and county building and zoning codes; a monthly town newsletter. Besides these necessary services, we have special projects, fire department grant, education, recreation, and others.

During the budget process all these areas must be considered. When the budget is presented to the council, it is our responsibility to ensure that estimated revenues are sufficient to match estimated expenditures and, if possible, maintain the current reserve we now have. Besides maintaining the present level of services, compensation to employees must also be a priority. Salary and benefit adjustments must be made. This means a COLA (cost of living adjustment), merit increases and promotions must be addressed. This includes a health insurance plan for all employees that will provide good coverage and a pension plan that will encourage retention of employees. From time to time changes must be made here. Police cruisers and public works fleet maintenance and replacement are important to maintain and support a quality level of services.

The 1999-2000 budget breaks down as follows: General Government - 16%; Police - 51%; Public Works - 28%; and others - 5%. Why the challenging budget? A large portion of anticipated revenue is from the new Red Light Cameras. Expectation is approximately $567,000. Hopefully this new source of revenue will meet this expectation, but we move cautiously forward with an action plan. Since the first quarter will give an indication of the income from this source, a hiring freeze has been put in place until after October 1. The anticipation here is that this program will be a traffic safety program as well as a revenue source.

Budget preparation determines what your town does or does not do for the coming year, and will influence what happens in future years as well. One important purpose of a governing body is to have a vision of the future. This council adopted such a vision plan in 1997 to be developed over the next 20 years. We have pledged to follow this vision plan as a team in a prudent manner and at the same time continue to support the quality level of services we now have. We realize governing body members have different styles and approaches to governing, and hope those elected in the future would elect to follow the adopted vision to make your town a better place to live.

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This page was last changed on Monday, September 6, 1999. Questions, comments, or submissions? See the Website Committee web page. This page has been accessed 3743 times.