June 20, 2014
While it’s easy to applaud a town board that wants to be sure it has all the necessary information to make an important decision, and even pass along kudos when it wants to double-check that information and reconsider any concerns that have been voiced, it’s difficult to understand when that same town board can’t seem to pull the trigger after all that effort.
Such is the case for the Bladenboro Town Council. You can read Staff Writer Erin Smith’s account on Page 1A of today’s Bladen Journal.
Nearly two weeks ago, the board, which includes a few new board members and a new mayor in office only six months, were presented a proposed budget that carried a 2-cents per $100 of property value increase in property taxes. Not good news, but seemingly necessary after several years where the previous administrations had sold off numerous assets and basically robbed the fund balance in order to keep from raising taxes.
The current board is now paying for that “rob Peter to pay Paul” mentality.
When concerns were raised nearly two weeks ago, the board voted to table a vote on the budget. A good move, under the circumstances. The board met again this week to address the budget in a workshop, and after another round of discussion that resembled the previous week’s discussion, the board left a vote on the fiscal year 2014-15 budget hanging in limbo.
Along the way, a motion to allow former Town Administrator Delane Jackson to help with the new budget thankfully died on the vine. Jackson is part of the reason Bladenboro finds itself in its current quandary. Not only was he part of the previous administrations that orchestrated the sell-off of town assets and unabashedly stuck its collective hand into the fund balance, but he also engineered a six-month severance package just prior to his pseudo resignation/firing that cost the town upwards of $30,000.
But Jackson is part of the town’s past. The current board is its present and is on the verge of shaping its immediate future — and we are disappointed, given the energy its new members showed during the campaign, that nobody seems to have the leadership, common sense and courage to apply all the information available and press ahead with a vote.
There seems to be only one logical option to keep Bladenboro off the path of a Detroit-like meltdown, and that is to approve the 2-cent property-tax increase.
Will someone step up Monday when they reconvene to discuss the proposed budget? We sure hope so.