Attleboro is, in fact, financially better off than the surrounding communities and appropriate accolades are in order for the administration's astute financial stewardship.
Yet, during budget hearings the Attleboro treasurer told the City Council that the tax titles were the highest she has seen in her 15 years in the position. The assessor stated that Attleboro foreclosures were the greatest in number of his career. The building inspector told the council that the 120 vacant buildings in Attleboro is the greatest number in the history of the city. The collector stated her department was processing 30 requests per day for municipal lien certificates. The School Department is transporting 34 more homeless children this year than last for a total of 114 per day.
Yet, the Budget Committee did not want to include these facts in the Budget Message to the mayor for our sons and daughters to refer back to in future years.
The council needed to cut $781,000 from the budget to keep a flat water rate and I recognize that whole number may not be best for the city. However, the water and wastewater departments may be overcharged by the city, which is increasing our water and sewer bills.
A new study multiplies the employee cost by 40 percent to account for the employee fringe benefits which may be overstated, and reports that the director of budget and administration spends 63 percent of his time on these accounts and the mayor spends 35 percent of his time on those accounts. It takes $15,000 in cuts to reduce the water rate one cent.
We would need to cut $78,310 to keep the solid waste rate from rising and $57,200 to prevent a 50-cent increase in the trash bags.
I supported the suggestion of the council's financial analyst for $84,807 in potential cuts, but it was met with stiff opposition. In the end, $13,702 was recommended to be cut. Not enough to cut the water rate one cent.
I think it is best for Attleboro residents to further minimize increases in this economic climate, if not in the water rate then at least the solid waste trash fees. I did not see an earnest effort to do so.
Richard Conti is an at-large representative on the Attleboro City Council. He was the only councilor to vote against the mayor's 2012-13 budget proposal.