MANCHESTER. In response to rapidly rising taxes in the city of Manchester, a non-partisan group of Manchester voters have formally begun the process of enacting a spending cap on Manchester city budgets.
The group, lead by ward 1 resident Karl Beisel, submitted paperwork on Friday to the city clerk's office to initiate the process. The charter change aims to limit annual increases in the city budget to the rate of inflation or less, with the exception of the airport and so-called "enterprise" programs that are generally funded by non-tax sources. Aldermen may override the limit with a two-thirds super-majority vote. Such votes must be made on roll call.
Commenting on the effort, Mr. Beisel stated that, "Taxpayers badly need long-term relief. The spending cap is an important tool for taxpayers to impose fiscal discipline on city budgets well into the future. It is exactly this lack of long-term discipline in years past that has resulted in this year's huge 7% increase in residential taxes."
The language submitted reads as follows:
SECTION 6.15 LIMITATION ON BUDGET INCREASES.
The Mayor and Board of Aldermen shall develop their budget proposals for the fiscal year in accordance with the mandates of this section. With the exception of enterprise funds and the Aviation fund, the budget shall not rise faster than the annual rate of inflation. The annual rate of inflation shall be defined as the national Consumer Price Index Urban (CPI-U) as published by the United States Department of Labor and as averaged over the previous three (3) calendar years. This limitation may be overridden upon the affirmative vote of two-thirds of the aldermen on roll call, by separate resolution. This vote shall not occur more than once per fiscal year.
State law allows citizens to initiate charter amendment changes by petition. To start the process, organizers are required to start a five-member petitioners committee. In addition to Mr. Beisel, committee members include Barbara Hagan, Phil Greazzo, Keith Murphy and Alec Muller. Over two-dozen other voters, including members of both political parties and independents, will also be involved directly in the signature gathering process and in the promotion of the overall effort.
A similar effort two years ago, which failed to reach the ballot, nonetheless demonstrated broad bi-partisan support, with Republicans and Democrats signing the petition in equal numbers.
According to state law, petitioners must collect enough valid signatures to total 20% of the number of votes cast in the last municipal election, which comes to 3,920 this year. Petitioners are aiming to collect at least 5,000 signatures to ensure the minimum is met after invalid signatures are tossed out.
Petitioners plan to submit petitions to City Hall in mid-July. Upon approval by the state, the board of aldermen will order the language to the ballot for the November 6 election. If passed by the majority of Manchester voters, the charter change will be binding for the 2008 budget cycle.
For more information, or to offer assistance with the petitioning effort, contact Karl Beisel at 867-4422 or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org