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I Voted Against the Budget Because ...

The lone dissenter in the Attleboro City Council's vote on the 2012-13 budget explains his decision.

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.

Gretchen Robinson June 26, 2012 at 08:19 PM
I think everyone should use their real name. What have you got to hide? If you are afraid to use your own name, then maybe you should rethink your comments.... By the way, Jerry Chase, I'm glad to see you using your real name. I had wondered if Jerry was TIsiphone, since we disagree on so much. Is Tizzy still around.
GiGi Grace June 26, 2012 at 09:33 PM
Michelle, You must have your TV tuned to the wrong station. I have copies of the DVDs and Councilor Conti missed just one meeting. How do you define NEVER? Apparently you believe everything you want to hear and choose not to gather facts.
Jeb June 26, 2012 at 11:17 PM
Eddie – I respect your opinion as well. I also don’t like price increases. However, using the gas analogy (again), we are speaking on behalf of ourselves, the consumer. When the price of a product or service goes up, the cost has to be passed onto the consumer. This is of course assuming that the service provider is running at full efficiency. If the service provider is running at full efficiency, then the only good cost cutting will do is diminish or defunct the service. We can debate whether or not the city is running at full efficiency and whether Big Oil is overcharging us another day. Assuming the administration and the city council wants to meet or exceed today’s level of service, an incremental price increase is the tough pill to swallow. TEN councilors, ONE mayor and his STAFF had to ask for that. They hammered it out over the course of weeks. ONE councilor seemed quiet and even absent, late or left early on a few occasions and then said “no.” Just “no” over and over and over again. He then attempts to explain himself in an op-ed piece after the fact. I’m not convinced. He let his colleagues do the heavy lifting, take the hit and then post this campaign propaganda piece to go for the win. NOT cool.
Migsy June 29, 2012 at 01:51 AM
Checks and Balances says the editorial board of the SC. I agree. Ten city councilors ducked their fiscal duty. Where will those on a fixed income, under employed or unemployed get the money to pay the higher taxes we can expect in December and the increased fees for water and rubbish? Surely, the landlords will increase rents to cover their additional expenses. Where will the tenants get the extra money? I am not happy that my tax bill and fees will increase. To those of you who think Conti voted incorrectly - please send me your addresses so I can send you my additional bills.
Jerry Chase June 30, 2012 at 04:57 AM
Jeb says that Conti "let his colleagues do the heavy lifting". No, Jeb; it's infinitely more like the great majority of the Council performs like the ol' Beatles tune, "Taking the easy way out". The mayor makes it easy for those who do his bidding. It's the old "punish your enemies and reward your friends". But he's no Curley or Cianci.

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