BERLIN – Mayor Zack Tyndall is hopeful his fellow elected officials will change their stance on the town’s budget in the coming weeks.
While Tyndall has made it clear he plans to veto the budget adopted Monday by the Berlin Town Council, a vote by four of the town’s five council members can override his veto. He’s hoping the council spends the time before the next meeting reconsidering what the changes they’ve made to the budget mean for Berlin.
“If they take some time to analyze them they could see they’re not in the best interest of the town,” Tyndall said.
On Monday, as Tyndall asked the council to adopt a budget he believed would point the town in the right direction financially, the council instead amended the spending plan. The changes they approved include restoration of cell phone and vehicle allowances and a 1.5% salary increase for town staff. Though the elimination of a feasibility study and strategic planning funding covered some of the changes, contingency funds were used for the rest. Instead of contingency funds of roughly $125,000, the town’s general fund will have about $49,000 in contingency funds.
“That was the first time I saw those changes,” Tyndall said, pointing out the council approved changes to 85 line items. “It’s a lot to digest in a short period of time. Unfortunately, with what I’ve seen so far, they leave me no choice but to veto.”
Because the vote to amend the budget was 5-0, Tyndall knows a veto override is possible. He’s hopeful that council members will analyze the changes and what they’ll mean for the town’s financial future before any vote to override the veto. When asked if he was worried about his relationship with the town’s other elected officials moving forward, considering their drastic differences of opinion on the budget, Tyndall said he was not.
“I think this is something we can overcome,” he said. “But I think we all need to ask ourselves what were we elected to do. I was elected because the fund balance was $16,000 and we couldn’t fix a pothole if we wanted to. I’ve been working to position us in a way we could be in a better place financially.”
He’s afraid the budget the council approved is reminiscent of the financial decisions that made 2019’s 18% tax increase and recent spending cuts necessary.
“I hope the council takes the next couple weeks and reflects on that,” he said.