Council set to make adjustments to budget

Published 12:00 am Monday, May 16, 2005

There are no sacred cows.

That is the one rule that Suffolk City Council will take into its work session Monday as it evaluates possible changes to City Manager R. Steven Herbert’s proposed $314.5 million budget. The meeting is at 7 p.m. in the Municipal Building.

During their May 4 meeting, all the council members were supportive of Herbert’s recommendation to make education and public safety top funding priorities. Those two areas make up 60 percent of the budget.

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Herbert’s proposed budget earmarks $39.1 million for schools, about 15 percent more than the system currently receives. The amount includes funding to give teachers a 6 percent pay raise, operate an alternative school and expand the Early Start program.

The budget also includes an average 4 percent pay raise for other city employees, $1.2 million to pay state-mandated overtime to police and firefighters and approximately $1.5 million to move firefighter and police salaries to the levels of neighboring cities.

During the May 4 public hearing on the budget, 25 of 30 speakers were supportive of the manager’s proposed budget.

Nonetheless, most council members are still calling for a decrease in the city tax rate.

Councilman Curtis R. Milteer Sr., who has been lobbying for a tax decrease for months, is calling for a 5-cent cut in the tax rate.

&uot;There are people out here who can’t get a dime of tax relief,&uot; Milteer said. &uot;They fall through the cracks.

&uot;I think it’s time to make an adjustment in the rates. For the past 20 years,

we have been taking and taking and giving nothing back.&uot;

Councilman Charles F. Brown agreed.

&uot;Some elders are having a difficult time,&uot; he said. &uot;Should we move so fast that we have no compassion for people who can’t help themselves.

&uot;If we have to seniors having to choose between food and medicine, we have problems in this city, state and nation.&uot;