Biddeford Mayor Alan Casavant vetoed the 2012-2013 budget last night. In a letter he sent to city councilors Tuesday night, Casavant said “The wheels of the needs-based budget flew off the wagon.” He added, ” I have consistently felt the ability of the taxpayers to absorb a significant increase has not been part of the council’s equation.”
The mayor said that because of the economy and unemployment, we need to slow down the budget increase. The mayor proposed to remove $360,000 from the school budget and $70,000 from the city budget. That would reduce the mil rate 18 cents from what the council passed last week. The mil rate would then be $16.57, a 7.4 percent increase over last year’s budget.
I agree with the mayor’s decision to veto the budget. I know, I know … Me agreeing with Mayor Casavant is as rare as Jessica Simpson being spotted at the gym, but pertaining to the budget, he is right.
After you pick your jaws up off the floor, I do have another issue with him.
Although I concur with increasing the budget as minimally as possible, I do question the political timing of Casavant’s veto. Casavant is running for re-election to his House District 137 seat and this veto may look good to some voters. Casavant, who is running a close primary race against well-known candidate Nancy Sullivan, could get the edge he is looking for with this veto.
Some city councilors agree. Ward 4 councilor Melissa Bednarowski said ” The mayor has taken a back seat throughout the goal and budget planning process. He refused to answer any direct questions regarding the budget, specifically at what percent he would feel comfortable. I find his timing to be well calculated, as he is five days away from his primary election for his state seat.”
Ward 3 councilor Brad Cote said he was ” A little frustrated by it. I asked the mayor at a meeting if he had any specific ideas where to make cuts. He didn’t have any ideas. However, we received a long letter Tuesday night describing possible cuts.”
Ward 5 Councilor Bob Mills said,” This reeks of politics. Vetoing a budget on the last hour of the last day for political reasons is unfortunate.”
The council voted 5-4 to override the veto. A two-thirds majority is needed to override a veto so the override failed by one vote and the mayor’s veto stands.
If you ask me, Casavant has rigged this whole budget process more than the Miss USA pageant ( I love ya Donald, don’t sue me).
I agree with the city council, the mayor could have saved a lot of time and hard work if he made his intentions clear at the beginning of the process. For a person who openly complained about the lengthy budget process, he has cluttered it more than the Pacific coast lined with tsunami debris.
The mayor’s timing with his veto and budget cut suggestions may be off on the city level, but it might be just what he needs on the state level. I think someone should tell Mayor Casavant that Belmont Park in N.Y., called and they want their grandstands back for the big horse race on Saturday.
Remember, the keystroke is mightier than the pen.