Greenville Mayor, councilmember have pointed exchange before budget vote

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GREENVILLE, N.C. (WNCT) – Greenville Mayor Allen Thomas and councilmember Calvin Mercer exchanged pointed words before a Thursday night vote on the new budget.

It started when Mayor Allen Thomas suggested possibly changing the budget process to what the council did a couple years ago.

Back then, department heads made funding pitches directly to a committee of council members.

When explaining how efficient it was, he mentioned how Mercer voted against the process.

Mercer fired back saying only the mayor and two council members were allowed to be on that committee.

“I was left out of that process, and I had a lot of questions about that process and still would not support that kind of process again,” Mercer said.

“Everybody including the public was there as part of that process,” Mayor Thomas countered. “The results for that process speaks for itself.”

When it came time to vote on next fiscal year’s budget, every councilmember present except for Kandie Smith voted in favor of the budget.

Smith wasn’t happy that $700,000 in savings was taken out of the employee health fund to help balance the budget.

She said it amounted to one time revenue to cover recurring expenses.

Councilmember Rick Smiley argued the savings would be recurring revenue.

The budget included a one cent cut in the property tax rate which will save the average homeowner about $15.

It takes effect July 1, 2015.

Council also approved setting a public hearing for a proposed $15.85 million bond referendum for August 13 at 7 p.m.

Councilmember Rose Glover was absent from the meeting.

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