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Feedback on the new Watauga Budget

September 21, 2013

I was able to attend the first of two budget hearings on the budget. I had three opportunities to speak.

I used the first to thank the City Manager, Mr. Vick, and his staff and the Council, for their efforts to get the budget done, on time and without raising taxes. I think he deserves a lot of kudos for that and I hope he understood that I was sincere in my gratitude. I was also impressed that they were able to implement a HSA which would allow the city employees to dodge the anticipated 25% increase in premiums which were anticipated from the new benefit year. I understand the increase was initially 32%, but that they had been able to contain that and even work with this HSA to limit the impact to employees.

I was also impressed that so much had been done to facilitate the purchase of equipment and replacement/maintenance from a designated fund instead of going out for debt to replace these items. I was quite disappointed that the City took out the 7 million in 2011 (I was the only one who voted against it), but I did point out my concern that just accruing debt didn’t really address the underlying budgetary issues with these expenditures being allocated from their appropriate funds in part of the operating costs for the department. Dr. Neils and Director Gibson both worked to implement this correction and their good work was continued in this budget. I was very glad to see that it had been.

I thanked Director Gibson for her presentation on the budget and for the budget documents being so well prepared and so well presented. I also thanked her for not using the rotating gears on her slides which I had found so distracting. I think she does great work. She’s an asset to the city.

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