With last Wednesday's rejection of a half-cent sales tax increase and budget disputes continuing to wrack the floor of the N.C. General Assembly, the board resigned itself to approving a budget many members were unhappy with.
"I'm not happy about voting for this budget," Carrboro Mayor Mike Nelson said. "We've had to reduce and cut things that concern me how we're going to recover over the next five years.
"We've been handed a horrible situation, and I think we've done the best we are going to be able to do."
Alderman Joal Broun echoed Nelson's sentiments. "A lot of cities have had to cut services, cut jobs, because of this crisis," Broun said. "I can only say to our citizens that we've done the best we can."
After months of meetings, untold hours of debate and seemingly unending difficult decisions, the board voted 5-2 to make permanent the interim budget it has been operating on for the last month. The idea of the interim budget was, as Town Manager Bob Morgan put it, "to hopefully have more information before we nail down a tax rate."
Morgan said the town had no more data from the state with which to make a decision on the $12.6 million budget. He recommended the board approve the budget with the 2.8 cent tax increase in place.
The hope of more state funding the board had been holding on to faded in what Alderman Alex Zaffron called "the most indescribable display of partisan thinking I have ever seen."
Zaffron, who often acts as a liaison from Carrboro to the General Assembly, said legislators were unable to put aside their partisan allegiances and do what is right for the state's population.
"We were so close last week to solving a lot of local government problems," Zaffron said. "All I could think of was 'This stinks. It's total B.S.'"
While most of the board was ready to nail the budget down and pleased the process was reaching its conclusion, Tuesday night's meeting saw some debate before a vote was conducted.
Alderman Jacquelyn Gist said in a written statement that she could not in good conscience vote for a budget with funds appropriated for the purchase of land on N.C. 86 for a future site of a public works facility. "I spoke with (Chapel Hill Mayor) Kevin (Foy) about the possibility of co-location of our public works facilities," Gist said. "He was under the impression that Carrboro was uninterested in co-location."
Gist requested that a committee of staff and elected officials from both towns be formed to explore the possibility of cooperation. While several members expressed interest in the idea, no action was taken on the issue at Tuesday night's meeting.
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