Harrisville cuts expenses, avoids property tax increase

Jul 23 2012 - 11:05pm

HARRISVILLE -- Harrisville won't be raising property taxes this year.

Following a recent work session, the city council unanimously agreed to postpone raising taxes this year and to make cuts elsewhere in the budget.

"We've put a Band-Aid on it, and we're hoping things improve in the economy," City Manager Bill Morris said.

Council members could not take an official vote at the work session, but plan to vote for what they have termed budget Option 5 at the Aug. 14 city council meeting.

"I think, of all the time I've been on the council, this is the hardest thing I've ever done," Councilwoman Michelle Tait said.

The city council called the extra work session last week to discuss five options for balancing Harrisville's proposed budget.

The five options included various mixes of taxes, expense cuts -- including contracting out police services -- and different levels of cost-of-living raises or bonuses for city employees.

One resident at the July 17 meeting thanked the council for taking the budget shortfall so seriously and offered advice on how it should be handled.

"Get rid of all bonuses," he said. "Your citizens aren't getting bonuses."

The council followed his advice in the creation of Option 5. Option 5 would have no tax increase, the same police department, no employee raises and lots of cuts.

Among the budget items:

  • $30,000 will be cut from the police department in the form of gas, office supplies, ammunition, training, travel, equipment and the city's seat-belt enforcement program.
  • $17,000 is to come from public works in the form of equipment purchases and snow removal.
  • $10,000 will come from eliminating year-end bonuses.

Councilman Grover Wilhelmsen felt that the council will face similar problems in the coming years.

"The bottom line is, we're going to have to deal with this every year one way or another until the recession is over," Wilhelmsen said.

The city is seeing lower revenue from sales tax and building permit fees.

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