Informed voices sought

Published 5:34 pm Thursday, April 21, 2016

For those who believe Washington spends too much money in one area, or not enough money in another area, there are four opportunities next week to find out how the city plans to spend residents’ tax dollars so they can voice their opinions during the May 9 public hearing on the budget.

The Washington City Council is scheduled to meet Monday through Thursday in a series of budget work sessions related to the upcoming 2016-2017 fiscal year budget. Believe it or not, the council would welcome city residents to attend those sessions, which begin at 5:30 p.m. Those sessions, unless the council changes its procedures, do not include comments from the public. That comes at the budget hearing.

With the proposed budget cutting the city’s allocations to “outside agencies” such as Arts of the Pamlico, the Beaufort County Boys & Girls Club, the Blind Center and the Washington Harbor District Alliance by 10 percent, the council should expect some input from supporters of those agencies as the budget process moves forward. No doubt the proposed budget’s call for increasing the property-tax rate by 2 cents (which would add $20 to the annual taxes on a house valued at $100,000) will draw some attention. Some folks will oppose that recommendation. Others, realizing the revenue generated by such a tax increase will be used to help build a new police station, would be inclined to support the proposed increase.

The upcoming sessions allow city residents to obtain information so they can later lobby for funding for things they consider important — a new soccer complex, improved streets, playground equipment for Beebe Memorial Park, keeping the city pool open or keeping electric rates from increasing.

The budget work sessions provide details regarding the expenditure of tax dollars. That information should prove useful as residents prepare to discuss the proposed budget at the May 9 budget hearing.

Let your voice be heard at the hearing, but make sure it is an informed voice.