With the city already voting to pass a franchise fee on water bills for city residents at the April meeting and taking the first vote to attempt to get a one percent sales tax on the ballot for a special election, some of the council members were less than pleased with the city's attempt to raise taxes and not cut spending.
These options in addition to a proposed Advertising and Promotions tax has many wondering if this is a feasible solution to something the council has failed to adequately address since October when the budget process for 2011 began.
Alderman Tom Thone stated he disagreed with the one percent tax, saying the city should consider reducing spending first. One example Thone cited was the animal control. One of the members of the animal control spoke on behalf of the newly established 501c3 organization set up to assist the shelter at the April meeting of city council. The main issue is the shelter is no longer receiving food for the animals, they are instead having to purchase the costly food, which is something they say they are working on. Cherokee Village Mayor Lloyd Hefley said he believes the organization is making every attempt to secure the food, but until they come to him and tell him they have it, this is something the city can't take for granted.
Hefley explained to council the majority of cities have a sales tax to help them pay for things within the city. The uniqueness of Cherokee Village is there are not a lot of storefront businesses and sales tax is only charged up to $2,500 according to one resident at the meeting who is concerned this is not a viable solution. The city of Cherokee Village is currently operating on reserve funds from a certificate of deposit and since October, the problem related to balancing the 2011 has not been solved. This is the issue that has not only department heads, but also many employees concerned about their livelihood and the security of their jobs.
Alderman Jerry Adams referred to a letter from the mayor provided in the council packet. He said, "There is no one solution to this, it will take several, raising taxes will not solve the problem. If a three mill property tax, a sales tax and a franchise fee are passed, there is still no guarantee and there needs to be. This letter from the mayor implies it will be a guarantee. There are ways to save money too."
The mayor explained the city was currently trying to save in many areas. Adams replied, "I have a feeling we are spinning our wheels here, bringing it up at every task force meeting." The mayor said, "I think this is the beginning of what I think is the solution." Adams seeming less than convinced, then asked the mayor what the next step would be. The mayor told Adams between the June 6 meeting, he would provide council with everything he has relevant to the issue. Many questioned why this process has taken 7 months to get the required paperwork for council to come up with an accurate representation of how large the budget shortfall is in actuality.
Prior to adjournment of the Financial Task Force meeting, Code Enforcement officer Charles Deloach took the podium in a less than pleased fashion. Deloach said, "We are beating this thing like a ping pong ball, these people behind me would like to know if they are going to have a job. They would like to know where we are going in June, we are still where we were in October of last year. I think it is time we crap or get off the pot. My department has cut 20 percent out, we need to know what you are going to do, if you are going to fire us, do it, but we need to know."
According to figures given by Alderman Lynn Maxedon, each department needs to cut expenses 13.7 percent, but the mayor did not agree with this number. Maxedon said, "We all need to agree on the size of the problem. Let's agree and then ask our managers what they can do. We are not in the position to tell our managers what to do, they know this best."
Alderman Verna Mae Newman added, "Some departments have cut back while we have sit up here doing nothing and dilly dallying. We need to commend them for what they have done." The mayor ended the meeting by stating, "We will resolve this next time."