ROCKVILLE — Rockville Town Council met with about 20 residents Monday evening at the Rockville Community Center, 43 E. Main St. in Rockville, for a “Truth in Taxation” public hearing over a proposed 132 percent tax increase for fiscal year 2015, a hearing that turned heated as some lobbed swear words and others said the council should be ashamed of themselves.
The tax increase comes after Rockville’s savings account has been emptied to balance the budget for the past few years, Councilwoman Megan Honer-Orton said. In order to do so, Rockville Town is in need of some $56,000.
“Maybe it would be helpful if we could cut down on a few things,” Rockville resident Shirley Ballard said. “I cannot believe you dare put this on paper. You cannot do it. I cannot tell you enough, you cannot do this.”
Councilman Bernie Harris said the Town Council held a four-hour meeting recently and made as many cuts as they could to the proposed budget – cuts that only added up to a measly $1,000.
This is a burden on a lot of people, resident Ryan Ballard said, and then asked if the tax increase had anything to do with the bridge. If so, he said, why would they put any more money into it when they will receive a federal grant to build a new bridge?
“That grant won’t be received until 2016,” Honer-Orton said, “the bearings are seized up.”
The town will receive a grant in 2016, Mayor Tracy Dutson said, but the town still has not decided whether to refurbish or replace the bridge. A survey of town citizens taken within the last year seeking viewpoints on the future of the bridge turned out a 50:50 divide in opinion.
“I work from sunup to sundown day in and day out to support my family,” resident Joseph Furse said, “I added it up, and this is going to increase my property tax $1,000 a year, I have no idea where that’s going to come from. Every dollar you get is one less dollar we have.”
Former Rockville Mayor Dan McGuire said that, for the 10 years he served as mayor, the budget was always balanced. He also handed out a list of 52 accomplishments of the first four administrations that included planting 40 new trees along the public way and acquiring the community center building – a former meeting house of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
Rockville resident Steve Cox asked the crowd to show up Aug. 18 for the budget hearing – so that the council will have to look each of them in the eyes when they pass the budget, he said.
“Rockville is the laughingstock of the southern part of the state because they are trying to push 132 percent increase of taxes through,” said Pete Mortensen, a resident of Rockville for 30 years. “This will be a first. I have never seen anything like this.”
One man asked where the plan to put in golden sidewalks was on the proposed budget.
“We went line by line, a lot of things we could not cut,” Honer-Orton said. “We did the best we could.”
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