Monday, March 27, 2017

2017-2018 Municipal Budget Review by Larry Fillmore


Over the weekend, I had an opportunity to review the Town Council meeting for March 21, 2017.  In it the Town Manager, Mrs. Diane Barnes, presented the proposed 2017-2018 Municipal Budget for the first time to the Town Council.  Listening to her present this budget, it was like she was taking lessons from Nancy Pelosi (I cannot work with President Bush) or Maxine Waters (Putin invaded Korea) all over the place.  As a result, I will attempt to recap what I got out of this budget.

The first item is that Mrs. Barnes stated that this municipal budget keeps municipal services at status quo.  In the same breath, she said the budget includes a Lieutenant position in the Police Department.  To me this is a contradiction to maintaining the status quo for municipal services.  Apparently, this Lieutenant is not going to do anything so why are we going to pay him/her approximately $102,000.00 in salary and benefits?

Next, Mrs. Barnes 52.8% of the budget is in wages and benefits?  She also stated there is a 2% COLA in this budget.  Well, how do you think the wages and benefits got to be 52.8%?  You do realize for the past 6 years; the town has paid COLA at 2% each year.    Take $90,000.00 salary and using the 2% COLA; figure out how much increase this is.  Keep in mind, that this is cumulative each year so the number you start with changes every year.  Did anyone in town receive 2% COLA for these past 6 years.  I know for a fact, that Social Security has not been raise 2% at any time in the past few years so why do the town employees get it automatically when no one else does?

The Public Works Department is budgeted for $332,500.00 of equipment.  I cannot tell if this is replacement or new equipment but it certainly is a lot of money.  Also, Mrs. Barnes mentions replacing the Salt Shed at a price tag of $250,000.00.  Mrs. Barnes wants to spend some of the Unassigned Fund Balance to offset some of these cost.

Using the Unassigned Fund Balance to offset this excessive spending this year will keep out taxes down but what about next year.  You are increasing the operating cost of the town by 19.2%.  This means every year after this; the taxpayers have to pay for these increases and the Unassigned Fund Balance will not support it in the future.  Keep in mind, the Unassigned Fund Balance is supposed to be used for emergencies.

The Town Manager, Mrs. Barnes announced that the Lisbon Communication Center needs $33,500.00 for upgrades.  Isn’t it amazing that when the Town Council was discussing closing the Lisbon Communication Center there was no mention of this expenditure by either the Town Manager of the Police Chief.  Why was that?  I personally do not think it would have made a difference because the “Good Old Boys” network will never give up any control.  Also, Chairman Ward, Councilors Brunelle, Crafts and Albert have absolutely no interest in cost saving for the community.  The initial cost saving was listed at $191,095.00 for this year and if you couple this $33,500.00 with this figure it would be $224,595.00.  This is just for this year.  By closing the Lisbon Communication Center, the community would be saving roughly the same amount each and every year going forward.  The problem is these four Councilors care more about the “Good Old Boys” remaining in control then doing what is best for the community.  What a shame!!!

There are other parts of the budget but you get the idea.  If you want to stop this madness; call your Councilor or go to the meetings and register your opinions because once they approve the budget there is not changing it.  So get off the couch and get involved.

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