2009 Budget Passes
There was one cliffhanger when several council members objected to voting without seeing the final budget document. City Administrator Marc Dashield held up the large white budget binder and said the council had already it, but then Bob Swisher of the auditing firm Suplee, Clooney said the state had just approved the final document Friday.
It turned out that copies were inside a brown paper package that was sitting on a table where the clerk normally sits. Assistant Municipal Clerk Abubakar Jalloh tore open the package and passed the documents to the council members, who had agreed to take a 15-minute recess to look at them.
At the end of the recess, Councilman Adrian Mapp said the chance to examine the final document revealed to him that the tax increase on the average $113,000 home had dropped from an initial $374 in the introduced budget to $87 after amendments.
"That's the benefit of me having this document," he said.
The major reason for the decrease was a somewhat controversial deferred pension plan. The state allowed the option of foregoing a $2.7 million pension payment this year, to be paid back over 15 years starting in 2012. Objectors said it would burden future taxpayers, but supporters said it was absolutely necessary to avoid a huge tax hike.
Tax bills will now go out in May. The council had agreed to allow an interim tax rate to be set for the third quarter and officials said most of the tax increase was covered by that action, so that fourth quarter bills will be lower. The FY 2009 tax year ends on June 30.