Crunch time for 2012 Cicero budget

Cicero's Town Hall isn't very big -- but it was packed Thursday night with folks anxious to hear if any progress had been made on the proposed budget for 2012.

It's safe to say many people left unsatisfied.

"Here we are tonight in the same position we were September 28th," said Cicero resident Tom Beaulieu. "I think the town board owed it to taxpayers to come more prepared."

Still on the table, a preliminary budget that would raise property taxes more than 14%. However, a new state law limits property tax increases to 2%. Cuts need to be made, but there doesn't seem to be a consensus on where those cuts should come from.

"People are going be upset no matter what they cut," said Cicero resident Deborah Gardner. "But cuts need to be made."

One cut proposed by Town Supervisor Judy Boyke has drawn intense criticism -- stripping the Cicero Police Department of $500,000. Police Chief Joe Snell said he's always taken a conservative approach to his budget and is a proponent of cost cutting measures when appropriate -- but said there is nothing left to cut.

We are not looking to remove the safety and security of the town, by no means, but we really need to look at this," said Boyke. "These are hard times and hard decisions need to be made."

If cuts cannot be made -- the town board could look to dip into the fund balance, or saving's account. But concerned citizens and Boyke expressed concern in raiding the savings because it would not only scar the town's credit rating, but handcuff the town in years to come.

Current town councilor and supervisor-elect Jim Corl said he's not satisfied with where this budget process stands and said things will be much different next year when he takes office.

"The key component to a good budget is starting early year -- February, March, April," he said. "This year we didn't start until October."

Tough decisions for the 2012 budget process will need to come quickly. There will be a couple of budget workshops in the coming days, but a budget needs to be finalized by November 16th.of next week.