The Clinton Herald, Clinton, Iowa

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March 12, 2014

Cuts bother residents

CLINTON -- Bev Hermann illustrated her point with food. The taste is bitter.

During Tuesday’s public hearing of the City of Clinton’s budget -- which, if finalized, will decrease this year’s tax levy from $16.71 in 2014 to $16.32 in 2015 -- ex-councilwoman Hermann held a box of pizza as she spoke.

The City Council has chosen to lower taxes by eliminating the emergency levy, resulting in a 30-cent reduction to the originally proposed rate. This decreases city spending by $260,161. It will also mean eliminating five positions from Clinton’s sewer department and closing the Lyons library branch.

All so the average citizen can afford a large thin crust, said Hermann, and so newly elected officials can say they listened to voters last November.

“For people whose homes are valued at $50,000 and assessed at $25,000, they can’t even buy half a pizza with their big $6.64 tax saving,” she said. “You have three days before this budget goes to the state... Please use some common sense, for the community’s good, instead of trying to fulfill unrealistic campaign rhetoric.”

Hermann wasn’t alone in her critique. In all, four private citizens and a department head spoke against the decision.

Nonetheless, the hearing closed by a 6-1 vote, moving Clinton one step closer to finalization. But it’s already too late, according to no-voting councilman Paul Gassman. He said the city won’t change course now with Thursday’s special budget meeting up next.

Gassman has voted against the current budget since it was contrived in mid-February. He said the city is losing too much while giving citizens a small return.

“My vote wouldn’t make any difference,” Gassman said following the meeting. “I’m upset that they closed the library and I think they’re going to have to face the music on the true cost of eliminating some of these services.

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