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Opinion: Brandon must learn its lesson on budget planning

I recently attended the candidates’ forum in Brandon and found the word “transparency” used repeatedly. I held the question back that I wanted to ask to find out if the candidates truthfully thought the proposed budget was, in fact, “transparent.” The reason I held back was because three of the four candidates are incumbents. Of course they would think it is; they approved it.
You see, as one of the members of the newly formed budget committee, I take at least one issue to this budget NOT being transparent in the respect that all personnel and benefits are lumped together under the different departments. Questions were posed to me as to why this was, but I couldn’t answer them, as one was not given to me.
I am privy, however, to a sheet that has all named employees, their presents salaries, wages and benefits and their proposed amounts that the town manager prepared for the budget committee per our request, but the voters are not. Thus, my issue with the “transparency factor.”
Overall, I’m very concerned as to just where Brandon is headed. History has a tendency to repeat itself, and there are many people in this town that think this budget will not pass due to the 14.8 percent increase in the amount of taxes to be raised from last year. You see, last year it took three re-votes to pass the budget. It went from a 10 percent increase, to a 6 percent increase, and finally passed at a 4 percent increase.
The one question I did ask of the candidates was if this budget didn’t pass, where would they make cuts to get this to pass. One candidate said they wouldn’t, one said they didn’t think cuts could possibly be made, one gave one example where it could, and one skirted around the issue not answering my question. My vote goes to the person who can find where to cut.
Phyllis Reed
Brandon

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