The new budget for Centerville City is like an illegitimate child that suddenly appears on a family's doorstep: No one admits liking it, much less any parental responsibility. Nonetheless, it has been adopted but not without causing a family fight.
With the new fiscal year less than 10 days away, "our feet are really to the fire on this. We have to pass a budget tonight," said Douglas Niel-son, councilman and acting mayor, after a final budget work session before the regular council meeting.A compromise was hammered out at that meeting, raising the city's franchise tax by 1 percent rather than doubling it to 6 percent as proposed in the city's tentative budget.
The final budget approved by the council passed by a 3-2 margin, with councilmen Kent Lindsey and Bruce Erickson voting against it - but for opposite reasons. Nielson, along with council members Michael Barton and a reluctant Nancy Gibbs, voted in favor.
Erickson drew up an entire budget proposal of his own that includes no tax hikes but does propose a water rate increase. He opposes the new budget because of higher taxes.
Lindsey said he opposes it because it doesn't go far enough and doesn't address pressing needs in the city, specifically a six-year plan of public and capital improvements endorsed earlier this year by the mayor and council.
Gibbs cast the deciding vote, but disavowed the budget. She said she likes Erickson's proposal but, knowing it had no chance of passage, voted for the compromise budget to break a stalemate and allow the city to operate.
Although not favoring the franchise tax hike, Gibbs said she can live with it because of yet another compromise: The $46,000 the hike will raise is dedicated to roads and parks, two areas citizens said in a public hearing are their chief concerns.
The compromise budget approved after about two hours of debate and discussion Tuesday allows a 1 percent franchise tax increase, with the money dedicated to road and park projects, and an increase in base water rates from $5 to $7.50 per month.
The council noted the city's property tax assessment is down, but almost microscopically.