Geneva Town Board cuts salaries
The decision was approved along with the town's $2.86 million budget—an 8 percent decrease that includes savings through public safety and conservation and development. Board members said they wanted to spare taxpayers a significant mill rate increase and did so by cutting expenditures, including their own income, at the town level.
Dan Lauderdale's chairman position will decline to $9,000 and the other four board salaries decrease to $5,500. Three board members are up for re-election in April.
Other savings at the town level include $24,000 by not filling the vacant town administrator position and close to $23,000 in wages for unfilled police officer positions. About $12,000 of that is through part-time officers, and Lauderdale said other positions left by retiring officers weren't filled.
But board members and Municipal Judge Scott Letteney, who attended the hearing, conceded that cuts at the town level couldn't continue for much longer. The board approved, 2-1, a mill rate increase from $1.91 to $1.95 per $1,000 of assessed value, creating about $34,000 next year that will be placed into a contingency fund.
"We can't keep cutting to not raise taxes," Lauderdale said. "Not raising taxes is nice, but we have to look out for our future."
Lauderdale and other board members feared not changing the mill rate for a fourth straight year might create discontent among taxpayers if they're forced to make a significant increase in 2012. Larry Kulik voted against the revision after unsuccessfully motioning to freeze the mill rate another year.
Letteney said there are still questions about this year's budget, which he believed grossly overestimated judicial revenue by about $51,000. A depleted police department led to nearly half as many citations this year than in 2009, he added.
Letteney defended a mill rate increase but was strongly opposed to board members altering their salaries. Tax dollars fund town services and it's difficult to provide a sufficient police force or road maintenance without that money, he said.
"What it does is it demeans the value of what you do," Letteney said of the salary cut. "It says you're not worth what you're paid."
The board and town clerk have assumed former Administrator Margaret Downing's duties since she resigned in October.
Accountant Pat Romenesko outlined next year's budget, which includes an 8-percent reduction in total revenue. That includes $100,000 less in intergovernmental funds due to grants no longer available through the DNR.