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June 12, 2013

Cool City budget cut in 2013-14

Council approves budget, higher taxes

By Kristyne E. Demske
C & G Staff Writer

Property taxes will rise by 1.087 mills in the 2013-14 fiscal year, bringing in 1.04 percent more in tax revenues — or $285,807 — for the city this fiscal year.

City Council unanimously approved millage rates of 20.54 mills at the June 3 meeting after a budget process that began back in January, compared with 19.45 mills levied in 2012-13. Council also adopted the 2013-14 fiscal year budget June 2 by a vote of 4-2, with Mayor Kip Walby and Councilman Peter Rubino opposed. Councilman Ron Frederick was not present at the meeting.

The reason for the budget contention was a change suggested by Councilman John Caron to reduce the Cool City Committee’s budget to $3,600 from $7,600 and increase the Activities and Parade committees’ budgets to $9,600 with the money saved.

“They’re already spending their next year’s appropriation this year,” Caron said of the Cool City Committee. “I’m wondering why we keep funding this when it’s obvious they don’t have a plan to offset major expenses they want to spend city money on.”

He said he doesn’t want to “cut them off completely,” but he wants Cool City Committee members to work harder to fundraise for events than they have in the past. The committee provided the city with a budget stating that it plans to spend $30,000 on dragon boat races in the summer of 2014, $4,000 for movies in the park this year, $500 as a donation to the Green Fair, $11,000 on a lighthouse community art project and $1,000 on a pub crawl.

“They’re heavily in debt with what their plan is, so that’s very concerning,” Caron said.

Councilman Chris Vitale — the council liaison to the Cool City Committee — agreed with Caron’s take on the budget.

“I haven’t seen a lot by the way of action in terms of this dragon boat racing plan. I haven’t seen anything in the way of fundraising. That’s the reason I seconded John’s motion,” Vitale said. “The Parade Committee makes good use of the money; that’s why I can get behind that.”

But Rubino defended the group.

“I find it confusing someone would call something a failure when we have not even seen the results of the project,” he said. “I think they have done a good job with that lighthouse project with raising funds from businesses.”

Walby agreed, pointing out that the group sold the lighthouses quickly to local businesses.

“I based my ‘no’ on the Cool Cities issue,” Walby said after the budget vote. “I didn’t want to take the money at this time.”

You can reach C & G Staff Writer Kristyne E. Demske at kdemske@candgnews.com or at (586)498-1041.