MANSFIELD — Mayor Tim Theaker and other elected city officials huddled Thursday to strategize cuts as Mansfield finalizes its 2013 budget.
A sense of urgency accompanied the meeting after Tuesday’s defeat of a 0.25 percent income tax increase. Still, Theaker said he is getting cooperation from local departments in the budgeting process.
“As the mayor of Mansfield, I was disappointed that the voters of Mansfield rejected the 0.25-percent income tax levy,” Theaker said. “This levy would have ensured continuing high levels of service to which Mansfielders have become accustomed.
The levy campaign was called “Save Your Services, Save Your City.” Mansfield officials say they are facing the most serious financial crisis in the city’s history.
On Wednesday, Mansfield Police Chief Dino Sgambellone said continuing to provide the same level of services will be difficult.
“We will continue to earn the trust and support of the public through our professional safety services,” police Chief Dino Sgambellone said. “It will be very difficult given how much we have already reduced.
“It is my job to ensure we meet the expectations of the public while providing my officers with the proper tools, equipment and personnel to do the job safely. I don’t see how I can cut any further and continue to do that.”
Theaker said Thursday he understands how residents feel about taxes.
“As a citizen of the city I agree, tax increases are not a desired action. However, given the reductions from the state and the additions of uncontrollable expenses the city is facing in 2013, we felt it necessary to propose a tax increase.”
The mayor noted all Mansfield elected officials were part of Thursday’s meeting.
“On Nov. 6 the voters have spoken and we are listening. However, the city’s hands are tied. We cannot spend more money than the revenue projections for next year,” the mayor said. “Given the significant deficit projections, we recognize that more cuts will have to be made resulting in a reduction of services.”
Theaker said officials have equally expressed concerns for our citizens.
“As a collaborative group, we are all are working together for the betterment of the city and its citizens,” Theaker said. “As Mayor, I am excited with the continued cooperation from all city elected officials, courts, clerk of courts, finance, and the law department. With this overwhelming support and cooperation from all officials, I am confident a budget will be forthcoming and presented to council in the near future.
“We are prioritizing services and reviewing their impact to the citizens. As a combined elected group of officials, we are continuing to review options of eliminating, combining, and minimizing the reduction of services as much as possible to minimize any negative affect on our citizens.”
City officials are well aware of citizens’ concerns, the mayor said.
“The citizens of Mansfield have spoken and have said that they do not want to pay more taxes and we are listening and acting appropriately.”