Salisbury Budget Showdown Begins

SALISBURY, MD – To the casual observer, the Salisbury budget process has been moving forward for over a month.  In reality, what has taken place up to today has been the equivalent of an “opening act”.  The real showdown begins tonight when the Salisbury City Council passes the FY 2013 budget.

Salisbury mayor Jim Ireton, who “governs” by press conference and denouncement of the council majority, has been hinting since the introduction of his budget that he would veto ANY change to his proposed budget.  Ireton is in for a BIG surprise.  Unlike last year, when he could veto the council-passed budget because it contained no tax hikes (see above photo), Ireton now finds himself between a rock and hard place.  Cut from his proposed budget are raises for his staff, along with other reductions in the Mayor’s spending requests.  Also gone is his proposed tax hike.

Ireton could, in theory, veto the council’s budget.  However, if he does so the city’s budget would not be in balance – a violation of the city’s charter.  Fortunately for the city’s taxpayers, Ireton cannot unilaterally implement a tax rate increase.  He can veto the ordinance setting the rate, along with the budget ordinance, but his budget cannot be implemented over the council’s objection because he included a hike in the city’s real property tax rate.

To date, Ireton has refused to meet with the council and negotiate in good faith.  Instead he attempted to ride in at the eleventh hour and demanded a meeting just before the holiday weekend.  For those that enjoy political theater, this week should prove amusing as Ireton attempts to spin the actions of a fiscally responsible council majority to his favor.

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