On August 12th, County Manager, Terry Schutten and the Budget Management Team presented an overview of the 1998 proposed budget of $409,801,041 to the County Board. This was the start of the "budget season". On October 21st each county department and each major division of these departments started presenting to the Board their line by line budget requests. By law, final adoption will take place between December 10th and 28th. December 9th is the Joint Public Truth in Taxation Meeting @ Arlington High and November 24 @ Little Canada City Hall.
Early on Commissioner Janice Rettman requested that budget discussions be made as public as possible: "The public has the right to know where each and every dollar comes from, what goods and services they purchase and what the quality of those goods and services are. A budget of more than Four Hundred Million dollars must be fully justified, and the public arena is where it should be scrutinized and discussed." She further went on to say that "I realize that I am in many ways a detail person and that not everyone is like me; but, with my twelve years experience on the City Council and as the Budget Chair, I know that there are many members of the public that want to know everything about their tax dollar: There are some citizenry, and I hope Board members, that see ways to reduce the tax levy (save dollars); so, being in the public eye is the place for full discussion and disclosure."
On September 9th, Janice introduced a plan to use Interest Earning dollars already received in 1997 to reduce the tax levy by 2.7 million dollars which would reduce to ZERO the tax levy. The plan was not accepted at the time; however, it was not ruled out as a possibility. Tax levy reduction is still a viable option for reducing cost. Janice assured the Board that she would continue to pursue reducing the tax levy to Zero if possible.
Along with scrutinizing the Budget, Janice is still encouraging the Board to cable-televise the budget review meetings so that the public has the opportunity to critique.
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