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City official brings up tax increase
Neal, Mike.jpg
Mike Neal

McMinnville officials are pushing the boundaries of the state’s patience when it comes to setting a budget for fiscal year 2019-20.

“We need to have the budget to the state by Aug. 31,” said city Finance Department director Shirley Durham during Tuesday’s regular session of the Board of Mayor and Aldermen.

Durham relayed a request by Alderman Everett Brock, who was not in attendance, for departmental committees to meet again next week and review those proposed budgets for additional cuts. 

Discussions were halted June 13 when the city Finance Committee met to review requests from nonprofit organizations, review the proposed budget of city administration, review departmental budgets, and set a tax rate. By that time, all department budgets had been reviewed initially. 

“We still have the first budgets we went through,” said Alderman Mike Neal. “Why don’t we have up or down votes and see where we’re at? I don’t know what else we are going to do in committee. To me, we have to decide the mechanics of it. Are we going to stay within our means, are we going to spend more than we have, or are we going to have a property tax (increase) to balance this out? To me those are our three choices.”

Mayor Ben Newman said a prior suggestion by Neal to cut each budget by 25 percent as a way to “share the burden” among all departments is unrealistic.

“I don’t think there’s going to be a 25 percent reduction of every budget,” said Newman. “I just don’t think that’s going to happen. You’d be looking at a fairly large layoff of people. I just don’t see that drastic of a cut in each department.”

Neal’s proposal came after Brock voiced a desire to remove $1 million in street paving as a way to balance the city’s budget for fiscal year 2019-20 and improve the bottom line. Neal, as Streets and Sanitation Committee chair, objected. Committee members slashed that line item by $500,000. 

Durham outlined the process that must take place over the next month to meet the Aug. 31 deadline: Departmental committees must meet to review proposed budgets. 

The city’s Finance Department then meets to review those, consider nonprofit donations, and recommend a property tax rate for 2019-20. A consolidated budget is then generated and presented to the Board of Mayor and Aldermen.