Lighting Up the Numbers

Please note that the CHTA will hold its October meeting on October 16th, 2014 at 7:00 PM at the Cumberland Head Fire Station.  Please also note that the time has changed so that people have more time to have their dinner before they come.

The TOP Tentative Summary Budget and the Tentative Line Item Budget for 2015 are posted on our website’s Financial Documents page.  Shortly after the Town published these documents, I found a number of errors in them and asked the finance manager at the Town to correct them which, for the most part, he did.  One glaring error still remains on page 9 of the Summary Budget.  Three tax rates are written at the bottom of the page.  The 2014 rate says $2.1101 per $1000 of assessed valuation.  This rate was the rate the Town wanted prior to the outcry from the public last year.  The final rate was $0.9898 per $1000.  For the moment the anticipated rate for 2015 will be $0.9685/ $1000 but depending on changes the Town Board makes during the budget workshops (the 15, 16, & 17 of October from 3-6 PM at the Town Hall…public can attend at any time) it could go up or down further.

One thing of concern is the increased tax hikes in the Consolidated Lighting District. On September 17, 2012 Paul Lamoy gave his tax saving lighting presentation to the Town Board and the public.  You can find a link on the TOP video Page on this website or go directly to the beginning of his presentation on You Tube from here.  During that presentation he said that on January 1, 2013 he expected the tax on street lighting, according to his expert plan, to be $0.11 per $1000 and remain there for six years.  After 6 years the lighting district was supposed to be so flush with money that the rate would drop to $0.08 per $1000 and then to $0.075 per $1000 the following year.   At that public hearing Dr. Hinsman expressed his disbelief, Mr. John Andrus said that to predict costs out 10 years, one would need a large crystal ball and I said that in the presentation the math didn’t add up.  Nevertheless, the Town Board knew best and proceeded with their plans.

So what happened to the tax rates?   On January 1, 2013, the lighting tax rate was $ 0.1544, a 40.36% increase over what Mr. Lamoy said it would be.   This rate was established by Sept. 30, 2012 when the tentative budget for 2013 was published.  So, 13 days from Mr. Lamoy’s presentation the tax rate was already higher than he told the public.  (Do you think it was really ever going to be $0.11 per $1000?)  Then in 2014 the lighting tax rate increased to $0.1603, bringing the increase to 45.7272% from the anticipated $0.11 per $1000.

And now we have the anticipated 2015 tax rate….a whopping $0.2389 per $1000 or a 117.18% increase from the promised $0.11 per $1000. It appears that the CHTA members knew better than the Town Board and that Mr. Lamoys’ claims were bogus and that we, the taxpayers, were going to be fleeced.

 

This brings me to an important point. Before you vote, please try to find out as much about the candidates as you can so that you can make an informed decision when you go to the polls.  In this economic climate it’s imperative that we elect people who can at least understand the numbers.  We can never be sure that they’ll tell us the truth, but at least we can elect somebody to the Board who understands and knows the truth.