Legitimate spending ignored in Bern’s draft budget



For the publisher:
The proposed Bern budget is pure demagoguery and a foolish attempt to buy votes by the Bern GOP. Taxes must be lowered by 86 percent! Landowners would receive additional tax breaks amounting to nearly $ 400,000 from the fund balance and pandemic relief funds.

Those in the Sewer District will see their fees reduced in 2021 and 2022 with pandemic relief funds. Who wouldn’t vote for these people? They have created a tax utopia in Bern!

The answer is that any reasoned person would not vote for these charlatans. If this budget is approved and implemented, I predict that what they now describe as a fiscal utopia will turn into a painful fiscal dystopia in a few years. This nonsense must be stopped and your vote is crucial.

They mistakenly claim that the unallocated fund balance is growing too rapidly due to the increase in sales tax revenue from the Dollar General in Bern. They think they have to spend it like drunken sailors and use it to offset property taxes and buy votes. This would jeopardize the future of the city.

Sales tax is viewed as a volatile revenue stream by the supervisor. If the economy collapses or the county changes our share, our property taxes will skyrocket.

I’m not an accountant, but I think I am: the tax rate was $ 3.79 per $ 1,000 in 2021. They are only offering $ 0.52 per $ 1,000 for 2022. When they’ll be done playing games, if the rate is to go up again to say just $ 2.00 won’t homeowners face a 284% tax increase?

They claimed in the city bulletin that projects such as municipal water, new buildings for the highway service, new municipal offices, expansion of the city museum and sidewalks were all ongoing projects. I saw no evidence that anything was done on these projects.

But costly needs have been identified. If we are to keep the balance of unrestricted funds at a target level, reserve funds should be created now to finance large projects like these later. Instead, they buy votes with sales tax dollars that should be earmarked for projects that benefit everyone.

Think about the recently identified amount of money that needs to be spent on equipment. The new transfer station truck will cost almost $ 200,000. Another plow is also offered. We just paid $ 256,000 for one in July. The new fuel tanks for the roadside garages will cost $ 220,000. It’s almost $ 950,000 in equipment needs now.

Legitimate expenses are ignored in the budget. An equipment reserve fund should be created, but they buy votes instead.

The remaining life has been estimated for all trucks and machines. Many were on probation two years ago and are big ticket items. We should reduce that list to about $ 200,000 per year.

All of this road spending would add up to well over a million in a year. But the superintendent of highways was absent for the discussion on October 20! Instead, they buy votes.

It is well documented that the Highway Superintendent ignores many of his responsibilities such as dangerous road defects, guide rail maintenance and hazards, pruning brush and trees, proper signage, road safety. employees, provision of flaggers, safety of work areas, road design, etc. It would all cost money if he cared about his responsibilities.

These expenses would amount to about $ 150,000 per year for a few years until the maintenance issues are caught. Review the attached PDF files with photos located and dated by GPS which very clearly document absolute negligence for five years or more. If our unallocated fund balance is too high, it’s because legitimate expenses are being ignored to the detriment of your security.

Appropriations have been estimated at $ 2,366,071 for the 2021 provisional budget. The 2022 provisional budget proposes nearly $ 650,000 more. This includes hiring an animator to do the job for Mr. Dennis Palow in case he wins.

So, these guys are dramatically increasing their spending and lowering property taxes by 86%? They propose to collect only $ 88,492.00 in property tax and “pay off” $ 200 on each taxable parcel.

This will be funded from the fund balance ($ 350,274) and the pandemic compensation fund ($ 48,126). They propose to discount $ 398,400 in property taxes collected which adds up to only $ 88,492.

From what I understand, the unallocated fund balance used to offset these property taxes in this proposed budget ($ 350,400) represents sources of funds like sales tax. Do people who do not own property at all pay the property taxes of Bernese owners?

I am told it is unfair and potentially illegal as well. The amount of $ 200 has absolutely nothing to do with the amount of tax paid, and the tax you paid when buying your car pays someone’s property tax.

Then, the pandemic relief portion is targeted to a group based on the plots they own? I’m told it’s illegal too.

Legal or not, it just doesn’t make sense. This money should be used for pandemic preparedness. Emergency and health-related spending would make sense. Maybe another automated stretcher for the ambulance team? Instead, it is used to buy votes.

I understand that public funds, intended to benefit the general population, cannot legally be paid into a special tax district such as a sewer district and such financing must take the form of a loan. The personal expenses of a small group, the sewer costs, are paid with public money.

The budget proposes to offset sewer charges for two consecutive years with public money intended to benefit everyone, relief from the pandemic. The district loan is amortized so that the loan payment increases each year.

The money they are now using to reduce fees is not annual income and, if I understood correctly, it will have to be paid back by the taxpayers.

As currently proposed, I think that the illegal injection of public money will stop in the 2023 budget, this money will have to be returned to the general fund, and the loan repayment rate will be three times higher! It will devastate taxpayers in 2023.

Stop this nonsense now. Vote row A.

Joel willsey

Bern City Council



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