"I think we owe it to the taxpayers to wait until the final moment to nail down a tax rate."
Carrboro Alderman Alex Zaffron laid down the benefits of approving an interim budget over a permanent budget with simple terms devoid of official document jargon. The Carrboro Board of Aldermen took Zaffron's comments to heart and to paper by approving an interim budget unanimously. The interim budget can be made permanent or altered at the board's discretion at its July 23 meeting.
Zaffron proposed the idea of an interim budget several meetings prior to Tuesday's as a way to meet state requirements of having a budget by July 1 while still leaving the town the option of altering the appropriations should a sales tax gain approval or funds withheld by the state be returned to the municipalities.
The idea was met with general enthusiasm from the board. The the interim budget was approved unanimously with no changes made at this week's meeting, although Alderman Joal Broun proposed and won approval for an amendment to raise the fee for unsterilized cats from $5 to $10.
Town Manager Bob Morgan approved of the board's decision, although he cautioned against premature optimism.
"We may not actually get any of these funds back. Nothing will be decided before July 1. The bill to speed up the sales tax is in trouble."
When asked as to whether he would like to see the interim or final budget approved tonight, Morgan said he would like to have a final budget but also would like to see if the extra funds come through.
"Approve the interim budget. I doubt we'll have more information, but we can try."
Alderman John Herrera again brought to the table the possibility of further cuts from the budget. He also requested the board debate the idea of borrowing from the town's revolving loan fund.
"Perhaps we could delay the street resurfacing," he said. "The revolving loan fund has $300,000 in it; we could borrow some from it."
While putting the street resurfacing program on hold was swiftly rejected as a possible area for cuts, there was some support for borrowing from the revolving loan fund.
"Given the time and the size of the fund, I would support borrowing some, although the amount might matter as far as the tax rate goes," Dorosin said.
Broun also liked the notion of using money in the revolving loan fund, given the town's precedent for loaning out for housing and economic improvements.
The general goal expressed by the board since the beginning of work on the 2002-03 budget was keeping the tax rate as low as possible while retaining services and jobs.
Thus far, the board has managed to do exactly that, whittling down its initial tax increase of 5 cents to a projected 3 cents while retaining all its programs and positions within the town. However, the state budget crisis is taking its toll on the town. There is a public hiring freeze in place, salaries will not be increase, and unemployment is at 6.9 percent.
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