Oh what a difference a year makes.
Only a handful of residents tuned out for a public hearing Monday evening on Jamestown's 2008 budget, which features a tax rate decrease of 24 cents per $1,000 of assessed valuation and no major cuts in personnel.
Acting Council President Tony Dolce said this hearing was in sharp contrast to last year's -- "a very contentious public hearing," owing to budget cuts.
"When you have cuts in personnel and a large tax increase, you have people come out," Dolce said. "[This year] there really wasn't a lot for people to come out and protest or be concerned about."
The budget that lawmakers expect to adopt when they meet on Monday totals $30.6 million -- the same as proposed by Mayor Sam Teresi. However, Teresi's original plan featured a slight tax increase -- 6 cents per $1,000 of assessed value.
After reviewing the budget and huddling with department heads over the past several weeks, Dolce said, the Council was able to turn the proposed tax rate increase into a decrease by purchasing new vehicles with funds from the contingency account and increasing expected revenues.
"It didn't surprise me that it was a quiet hearing, and I think it is indicative of the work, not only of the administration, but City Council has been able to achieve," Dolce added. "In the last two years, we've seen tax decreases, and I think the people recognize the hard work we're putting in."
One resident did speak out Monday, accusing Council members of working on the budget in private and alleging that a complete rundown of the spending plan is not available.
Council members were quick to point out this wasn't the case and that copies of the budget are available in the James Prendergast Library and in City Hall.
Amendments to the budget still are possible before the final vote on Monday.