BROWNSBURG — Town officials here passed a 2013 budget Thursday night amidst a lively debate that ultimately ended up at $39.9 million with an unprecedented property tax rate decrease of .1008, more than a 12 percent tax cut.
Town Manager Grant Kleinhenz said he was pleased not only with the tax decrease, but also with the fact that it was a balanced general fund budget.
“We’re only spending the revenues we’re receiving,” he said. “We also have several capital projects which I believe will move our town forward in achieving some of the goals.”
Those capital projects include improving Northfield Drive, completing the U.S. 136 and Odell Street intersection realignment that will see four new turn lanes and traffic lights, and more than $1 million in improvements in sidewalks and street overlays.
Town Council President Dwayne Sawyer added, “We’re seeing a number of local municipalities with budget woes taking extreme measures to cut costs right away. Some of our neighboring communities are eliminating pay raises for employees, cutting positions, and reducing public safety to make up for shortfalls. Grant and his team worked hard to come in under budget again this year and find operational savings to lower the 2013 general fund.”
The general fund was lowered by more than $147,000. The town saved $40,000 on employee benefits with a change to its longevity pay program that will show a savings of more than $1.4 million over 10 years.
A much talked about aspect of the budget was what to do with the Brownsburg Chamber of Commerce, which maintains offices in the town hall. The original budget proposal called for a split in the chamber’s funds from more than $32,000 annually to $16,900.
Then, on second reading, a motion was passed to cut funding entirely.
At the final reading, councilman Dave Richardson tried to meet in the middle, proposing what was ultimately passed, which called for the chamber to move out of the town hall by April 1, 2013, and the town providing $20,000 for one year only.
He called cutting funding in full “unnecessarily harsh” and said it would “create an adversarial atmosphere between the chamber, the community, and the town, and no one should want that.
“Virtually all chambers through Hendricks County and throughout the state are assisted throughout the community. Most chambers assist, guide, even create a variety of economic development opportunities as well as invite, encourage, and assist new businesses to move into the town.”
About 30 supporters of the chamber attended the meeting, including Executive Director Brian Rose, president Dan Moore, and board member Emory Lencke.
There was heated debate and some raised voices from some chamber members, including one man who was eventually escorted from the building by police.
The town’s proposed budget will now be submitted to Hendricks County officials for approval and then to the Indiana Department of Local Government Finance in early November.
Copies of the documents may be seen on the town’s website at www.brownsburg.org.