In 2011, Martin said he voted against the adopted tax rate because the city council allowed the M&O tax rate to go up simply because the I&S rate had gone down, taking advantage of debt service levels.
“That is a general feature, I think, of how property owners are stuck with more and more tab without actually being notified,” Martin said.
“In 2012, we raised it 3.6 cents because the I&S rate went down 3.6 cents,” Martin said.
However, some other council members questioned what a tax decrease would cost the city.
“What department do you want to cut?” Podany asked Martin.
“Nobody’s talking about cutting a department,” Martin said. “That’s silly.”
Money could come from other areas, Martin said, referencing a suggestion by council member Brian Thornburg that the contingency fund in each department’s budget, totaling $70,000 across the board, be cut to save a total of two cents in the tax rate.
There’s a lot of money in the reserve that has not been allocated, Martin said.
“We really need to take a serious look at how we’re funding things,” Martin said.
“And you want to take all that money out of the reserves?” council member Dan Stalling asked.
If the city took 4 cents out of the maintenance and operations tax rate, it wouldn’t put a large dent on reserves, Martin said, adding that it would be about $140,000.
Other money could be found by tightening belts, according to Martin.
Podany expressed concern about the effect tightening belts would have on projects and the growth of the city.
“I’m trying to figure out where you would cut back,” Podany said.
Martin said the contingency fund in a road project is not analagous to the contingency fund built into the departmental budgets with the intention of tracking overages and underages.
However, Mayor Richard Neverdousky said they cannot plan for inflation and something has to be built in so the city doesn’t overrun the budget.
The reserves also have an impact on the bond rating when the city seeks bonds for projects, Neverdousky said.