Officials used fund balance to close gap
By Jennifer Eisenbart
The City of Burlington Common Council approved the 2013 budget by a 7-1 vote Tuesday night.
The city has a $7.93 million budget for 2013, and will utilize approximately $400,000 from its fund balance to keep tax bills from increasing, though the tax levy will increase by about .8 of a percent.
The mill rate is expected to drop from $7.85 per $1,000 of property value to $7.81 for the city’s portion of the tax bill.
The lone “nay” vote came from Alderman Katie Simenson, who voiced concerns with a lack of details during the budget process, and with a budget that included the proceeds of a sale of a city-owned building on Sheldon Street that hasn’t been sold yet.
“It’s hoping we’re going to sell something,” said Simenson about the second issue.
As for the first, Simenson said that when she started six years ago, the city went almost line-by-line in its budgeting sessions. Now, she said, it’s all PowerPoint presentations.
“I feel like I understand these budgets less and less as we go on,” said Simenson. “I’m always just uncomfortable.”
City Administrator Kevin Lahner pointed to the city’s new performance dashboard, which allows anyone with Internet access to see the details, and, as a result, the “dramatically increased” information available.
“The information on the budget is out to the public well in advance,” Lahner said.
Simenson still felt uncomfortable, saying that unless someone went through the budget line by line and explained it, “you don’t really understand it.”
Alderman Tom Vos said he found the process an improvement.
“It’s our responsibility to vote on it,” said Vos. “I’ve got to believe (city staff) did a great job.”
Township OKs budget
The Town of Burlington, meanwhile, got a unanimous vote to approve its budget for 2013 on Nov. 27.
Town Board Member Tyson Fettes estimated there were about 20-25 people who showed up for the meeting, and thought that there was one “nay” vote against the tax rate – $2.56 per $1,000, the same as it has been the last several years.
“There were no public comments in favor or against the budget, so no idea,” said Fettes about the nay vote.