In light of the fact we need to start working on the FY18 tax rate now and not waituntil the annual rite of winter, when we have the tax rate vote in late November/early December. We are going to start tracking votes now of the City Council on matters we consider will have a direct impact on the budget, which has a direct impact on the tax-rate (your bottom line).
Before anyone accuses us of copying Mass Fiscal Scorecard, we are guilty as charged. The first vote to be graded will be from City Council meeting the other night numbered 33D). Link to video archive starting at 1:56:00.
This vote regarded what we were to do with $5,480,000 of “free cash”:
- $2,740,000 Bond Rating Stabilization
- $1,640,000 OPEB
- $100,000 for Stearns Tavern
- $107,744 for police helmets and face shields
- $300,000 police OT
- $120,000 for four sanding units
- $70,000 air handling unit at VOKE
- $300,000 veteran’s benefits
- $100,000 Mounted Police Unit
These are all good investments, except the $100,000 for the Mounted Police Unit that is estimated to cost $264,000. Maybe the first year we will get these sponsorships and donations to fund the balance of the unit, but it will be hard to maintain this and the taxpayer will eventually end up bearing the entire cost. Four years from now we will spent over $1,000,000 on this new unit and we have to question whether this will be an effective use of the taxpayer monies.
If these monies were to be spent on, for example, the WPD video surveillance program or to expand shotspotter, we would have gladly supported this vote. We simply do not feel $100,000 today for the Mounted Police Unit makes fiscal sense and would have recommended a “No” vote on this.
After 1 vote here are the scores, Gaffney leads the pack being the only one to vote “NO”:
- Gaffney 100%
- Petty 0
- Lukes 0
- Toomey 0
- Rivera 0
- King 0
- Rosen 0
- Russell 0
- Carlson 0
- Bergman 0
- Economou 0
Next week update this scorecard with any votes that we feel will have an impact on the FY18 tax rate. We have added a page to the website for this Scorecard.