By Laura Crosio
Only two concerned residents appeared before the Town of Clayton council on Monday night to express displeasure at a proposed tax increase for the coming fiscal year. For the first time in nearly a decade, Town Manager Steve Biggs has made a recommendation to raise property taxes by 2.5 cents, increasing the rate to 55 cents per $100 valuation.
Jerry Gay moved into the Glen Laurel neighborhood a year ago. He appealed to members of the council to reconsider making a change.
Gay was concerned that a large portion of the proposed hike was going towards town employees, including pay raises, funding their insurance benefits and hiring an additional 12 full-time and part-time workers. Biggs budget includes a 24% increase in health insurance costs, or $217,000, a rise he attributed to several employees having critical illnesses in the past year. Another $230,000 would be designated for salary adjustments to benefit 2/3rds of the town’s employees.
“It appears more common sense could be used,” said Gay. “I know everybody wants a raise but in the economy right now not everybody can get a raise. I think that it is something to reconsider.”
Gray also opposed budgeting $20,000 to pave a parking lot at the dog park on Glen Laurel Road.
“I’m not against dogs but I’m sure dogs aren’t worried about a paved parking lot,” he said.
“It is a well-used facility for the Town of Clayton,” countered Councilman Bob Satterfield.
Riverwood resident Jonathan Quick echoed many of Gay’s comments. He also questioned council members on the necessity of spending $5,000 to furnish the office of the town’s library director as well as setting aside funds to hire an additional librarian.
As of June 1, Clayton is no longer a part of the countywide library system and is charging non-residents to use their services.
“How many people (employees) do we need for a library that fits into a ranch house?” said Quick.
Biggs assured Quick there will be a heavy demand for the town’s new library system.
The proposed budget will go before the council at the June 15 meeting.