ENM preliminary budget talks begin

By Patrick Fisher

Staff Writer

One percent was the consensus of the Elko New Market City Council at its Thursday, Aug. 11, meeting. That was the proposed tax impact chosen by the council for its preliminary 2012 budget.

City Administrator Tom Terry noted he needed direction from the council as to where to begin the preliminary budget. That began a lengthy debate where council members Tony Gabriel and Bob Hanna originally offered a growth of zero and fellow councilors Denise Schneider and Ken Sulich preferred beginning at a higher number and then working their way down.

For having zero tax increase, Gabriel and Hanna cited factors of the economy and didn't want to add to residents' tax increase. Gabriel said he wanted the city to continue to function and maintain its services, but he didn't want to have any tax increases.

The city has to have a number for its preliminary budget in to the state by September 15. To meet that deadline the council would have to approve its budget at its Thursday, Sept. 8, meeting. Terry noted the city can start at a higher number and bring it down, but can't increase it.

Schneider explained that she wasn't suggesting a two percent increase, but she wanted to put a cap on it. She also cited the economy, but Schneider noted that if there was no increase this year and the economy worsened, it would be more difficult.

Schneider and Sulich both expressed concerns about the possibility of having to cut services.

Gabriel said that he was tired of hearing that reason when there was talk of having zero increase.

The council and Terry discussed how New Market, before the merger of the two cities, had kept its increase steady around zero for a number of years, even though costs went up. Eventually New Market had to have a significant increase to be able to meet its needs.

Sulich asked where they were at for that curve or cycle. Terry said the city was at the beginning of that curve. He said they had to go into this with their eyes wide open and be cognizant of the long-term effects.

Schneider said they can start high with the tax increase and then go down. She reminded them how for the 2011 budget the council started around three percent and eventually brought it down to less than a one percent tax impact to the typical home.

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