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Waiting for a budget

I had planned to write today about the city manager’s proposed budget, but in light of City Council kicking it back to him last night…well, what’s the point?

I sat through about an hour press briefing yesterday on the proposed budget before Council discussed it at their work session. I had some thoughts about it, but those are not relevant. We’ll just wait to see what comes down the pike.

A fact sheet accompanying the budget which, I assume, City Council members received as well, showed that the average residential assessment in Suffolk was now about. $253,000. Under the City Manager’s proposed tax rate of .99 cents per $100 of assessed value, the owner of that home would pay $2,504 in taxes.

That same person’s property was assessed at about $197,000 last year. At the current rate of $1.06 per $100, he or she or they paid about $2,088 last year. That a difference of about $416.

The city manager proposed raising the average Suffolk resident’s real estate taxes by 20 percent. That’s pretty stiff, not to mention ballsy, and wasn’t on the fact sheet.

The fact sheet noted that the increase for the average homeowner amounted to just $1 a day. I guess that was to make us feel like it wasn’t so much. Why stop there? It would seem even less of an increase to say it was only a little over 4 cents an hour. Who could complain about that?

While I didn’t say anything at the briefing, I was somewhat surprised that only one budget was presented. I thought I had understood that two budgets were supposed to have been presented,

one showing the city manager’s recommendation and another reflecting a 15-cent reduction in the tax rate (incidentally, even that would represent 9 percent increase on that poor, aforementioned average property owner). All we got was the one budget and a sheet showing that an additional $6 million would have to be trimmed to provide the 15-cent break. It showed what would have to be cut. I assumed I had been mistaken in my assumption.

Apparently, council members understood it the same as I. While I didn’t make the work session, reporter Allison Williams said told me they were pretty ticked off about it.

It’s unclear now when we will see another proposed budget. I’ll withhold any further comment until then.