By MELINDA WILLIAMS
Pulaski Town Council has approved its $8.25 million budget for the coming fiscal year, but the vote wasn’t unanimous.
Councilmen Greg East and Joseph Goodman each voted against the 2012-13 fiscal year funding plan, making the final vote 4-2.
Goodman said later that he voted against the budget because, for the past seven years, council has resolved budget problems by raising taxes or fees.
“The preference is to make cuts first,” he said. “I know cuts have been made, but there’s still more that need to be made.”
He added, “I know there are things that need to be done and there are funds that will have to be raised,” but more work needs to be done on eliminating duplicated services by working more closely with the county.
East shared the same sentiments. He said he doesn’t think council or staff is working hard enough to find savings in the budget before going to a tax increase, whether it be real estate, cigarette, meals or some other tax or fee.
“We can’t continue on that path without looking for some savings in the budget and how we operate various departments,” he said, noting that it’s time to start making “the hard decisions.”
Prior to the vote, Town Manager John Hawley told council a lot of work went into the budget by council and staff, but “I think we have a budget we can work with. It’s not what everybody likes, but it’s one that will enable us to continue providing services to the citizens at the same level.”
Mayor Jeff Worrell seconded Hawley’s comments. He said he’s sure all council members would have liked to of had more money to do more things.
“We have had spirited debates and I think that’s a good thing,” he added. “Personally, I’m comfortable with the budget we have.”
No one from the public offered any comments on the budget during a recent public hearing.
The budget includes a real estate tax rate increase of two cents, from 30 to 32 cents per $100 of assessed value.