Report on the Schmidt-Sage-Black Townhall

by:  Diane Benjamin

I did not attend this Townhall, I’m relying on reports from people who were there.

Citizens attending totaled around 100.  One report I received said a good number of them were City employees.  There is nothing wrong with that, other than their interest is to keep their jobs.  They can’t be blamed for that.

A show of hands was asked to identify those that favored cuts (about 1/4th), those that favored tax increases (over half),  and those favoring a combination of cuts and increases (30-40 %) with a number of double votes in the last two categories. 

Cuts proposed by citizens:

  • Open the books down to detail level so citizens can make better decisions
  • Free lunches/meals during council work sessions, free bottled water for Water dept
  • Hire locally when possible, Jesse Smart reiterated 7 to 1 acceleration for local spending.
  • Concern for those that do not have the capability to pay more,  stated that increase in property tax would be preferable, so those with modest housing would be impacted to a lesser degree.
  • Deal with pension issue: while hands are tied (re state formulas), we do have control over number of future hires.
  • Reduce land holdings, city should not be a landlord (i.e. Creativity center)
No cuts  group:
  • City employee:   Keep parks and roads funded
  • BCPA director:  Maintain funding
  • Continue to support SOAR
  • Keep economic development activity
  • Downtown businessman:  Downtown in decline, increase levels of Police staffing.
  • Former City employee:  current city staffing at skeleton level.
  • Owner of small  tech company (25 employees):  Keep funding all “quality of life” functions so he would be better able to attract 3 new out-of-town employees.
  • A couple of “all govt is good govt” attendees:   continue to spend whatever is desired.
Other Comments:
  • Concern expressed that whatever action is taken, this is only the beginning of future increases in future years.
  • Sentiment expressed that while private sector salary increases have to be earned, public sector increases are automatic/expected.
  • The only new revenue identified was an increase in food/beverage tax
Monday night is the Public Hearing on the budget.  No details are available yet on the City website.  Unless you like tax increases – this is the night to show up!



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