Attorneys outnumber spectators three to one
With multiple attorneys at the meeting representing the Township Board up front, the Assessor to the right of me, and the Board’s insurance carrier to the left of me, I couldn’t help thinking of the Steelers Wheel song “Stuck in the Middle” with the lyrics ” Clowns to the left of me
Tonight’s meeting lasted a little over an hour with the bulk of it having to do with Assessor Ditton’s 2015-2016 “revised” budget request which continued to vary considerably from what the Board is offering in order to maintain a balanced budget. When I say “revised”, it is because several minor changes were made since Monday night’s meeting where he met with plenty of resistance to his first proposal. His latest budget request offered up only some moderate changes such as hiring two part-time employees rather than one full timer. The additional help is supposedly needed because this is the quadrennial year that requires that the assessor visit every one of the properties within its boundaries to ensure tax record accuracy. An “apples-to-apples” dollar comparison was submitted showing the 2011 quadrennial assessor’s budget versus what the Board is proposing for the assessor’s office this coming year.
At Monday’s meeting it was suggested that Ditton research some various staffing models. Between then and now, he was given some staffing options to consider but when asked if he had considered using any of the staffing suggestions, he stated “I didn’t think it made sense for my office”. Another Trustee mentioned that although Ditton claims he needs four full time employees to run efficiently, he was able to close his office six months this past year and still get the job done. To that Ditton replied that he has over 1,000 ‘permits’ waiting to be processed. These are most likely permits taken out for new construction, garages, finishing a basement, adding fences, etc. that increase a homeowners assessed value.
Ditton used a figure of $20,000 for the part time employees but had difficulty explaining how he arrived at that figure. By hiring two part time employees his office would save on several employee related costs which was reflected in his revised budget figures. After more back-and-forth between the Board and the Assessor they were able to nibble away at about $30,000 but are still a far cry away from the purportedly $150,000 spread that they started with. Most of the Board members do not want to approve a budget that fails to be balanced since it will only set a precedent for future years and next year doesn’t look too rosy in making up a carried over shortfall.
The special finance committee meeting is included in the following video. I started taping the meeting that followed but since it contained nothing of value prior to the Board going into executive session, it has not been included.
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