Berlin Budget Calls For 14% Cut In Expenses

BERLIN –  Town officials formally introduced a $15.6 million budget for the coming fiscal year.

The budget, which has been under development for months, was introduced Monday following the Berlin Town Council’s approval of an 18% tax increase. A public hearing on the proposed spending plan is set for June 10.

“We have a public hearing then formal budget adoption,” Mayor Gee Williams said. “If any last-minute amendments are made they have to be made Monday, June 10.”

Williams told a large audience Monday that the proposed $15.6 million budget was a reduction of $2.5 million over the current fiscal year’s spending plan. He said a 14% reduction in expenses had been made.

He said the proposed budget did not include any raises for town employees and also did not include BJ’s or Sam’s Club memberships. It does, however, provide employees with a gift card at Thanksgiving.

Williams, who acknowledged that this year’s budget process had been challenging, went on to outline changes he believed needed to be made after the budget was approved. He said that council needed to establish a policy addressing the town’s level of reserve funding. He also wants to see department heads present quarterly reports on the status of their budgets at council meetings in October, January, May and August.

Williams also called for a comprehensive study of Berlin’s sewer fees, as the town needed funding to cover debt service as well as capital projects.

“The council should review all fees on a regular basis to ensure they cover the cost of the services provided,” he said.

Because the council acknowledged in its last work session that another property tax increase would be needed next year, Williams suggested that officials begin that discussion in January. He hopes to have a rate settled on by March of next year.

“This would allow all town departments to prepare expenses and recommend capital expenditures for the next budget year,” he said. “This would also require the mayor and council to formulate a capital plan as part of the annual budget process with projected needs for the immediately following years.”

The proposed budget is available on the town’s website. Citizens will have the opportunity to share comments on the document during the public hearing set for June 10 at the council’s regular 7 p.m. meeting.

About The Author: Charlene Sharpe

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Charlene Sharpe has been with The Dispatch since 2014. A graduate of Stephen Decatur High School and the University of Richmond, she spent seven years with the Delmarva Media Group before joining the team at The Dispatch.