Whispering Pines proposed budget

Whispering Pines Mayor Alex Roberts conducted a special meeting Wednesday to review the proposed FY 2020-2021 budget. There was a discussion on the council voting on tax increases beyond their term and that new council members would change their rulings.

The discussion centered on the repair fund, focusing on the dam and Lakeview bridge, and the need to increase the property tax by 4 cents, 5 cents, 9 cents, or 10 cents.

Village Manager Rich Lambdin presented the budget worksheet and an amendment.

“I think we need to look at alternative financing,” Councilman Andy Conway said.

“I do not like the 9 cents or 5 cents tax increase option,” Councilman Bob Zschoche said.

Conway said that he believed in taking down the debt with a higher tax rate now and then lowering it later.

Mayor Pro-Tem Glenn Bernhard wanted to take down debt as soon as possible.

Pam Harris said that she had heard from former council members who “have just as many varied opinions. I want us to get down debt. I don’t want to be another Woodlake. Our dams are a matter of public safety and make sure we have enough money to fund dams. Since we are in the middle of a pandemic, it is not fair to ask for a full 10 cents. I am leaning in the middle.”

The council is debating removing a second police officer on holidays, and members expressed concern about lowering public safety when the village is the most populated.

On the general fund, the debate was on a 1 cent tax increase.

“Increase tax by one penny and $61,573 in revenue could be used on page 20 to restore any items that may be cut. Or fund things we reduced on page 25. Or fund an item we did not originally consider. Or put in contingency or combination of all items,” Lambdin said.

Lambdin will prepare a presentation with option a and b, with two options, and a presentation for the general fund with adjustments and with no tax increase and an option with what a one-penny tax increase would do for the Council Work Session on May 28 at 6 p.m.

The budget proposal will be available to the public at 4 p.m. on the day of the hearing.

Public comments are to be sent to the Assistant Village Manager and Clerk Linda Christopher.

Public comments may also be made in public during the hearing.

Written by Sandhills Sentinel Journalism Intern Stephanie M. Sellers.

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