The Argyle Town Council approved a $2.4 million budget and narrowed its town manager candidates to three Tuesday.
The budget was approved 3-2, with council members Joey Hasty, David Wintermute and Joan Delashaw in favor and council members Peggy Krueger and Bonny Haynes opposed.
The budget was approved without any discussion, despite being heavily debated by council members in a previous meeting. Haynes and Krueger said they refused to vote for the budget because Mayor Matt Smith elected to make budget cuts they did not agree with.
Krueger said the town’s department heads did a great job making cuts to their respective budgets without intervention by the council.
Smith said tough cuts are necessary during tough economic times. The approved budget has an estimated $45,000 deficit and Smith said it was important to take all the necessary steps to reduce the budget.
On Sept. 11 during a town budget workshop, the mayor identified areas in the budget to cut, slashing the deficit by about $18,000.
In October, the Argyle council will discuss future town priorities and work to prevent any future deficits. Smith said he expects the town’s focus to shift toward beefing up the town’s commercial sector and tax base.
Looking forward, Smith said he expects the council to work together to address the needs of the community and work together to make sure the town operates efficiently.
Smith said decreased property and sales tax revenues contributed to the town’s financial bind.
“It wasn’t the main challenge we faced, but it did contribute to it,” he said.
This is at least the fifth consecutive year the town has approved a budget deficit. Butthe council manages to whittle away at the shortfall each year.
Approving budget deficits isn’t a healthy way to run a town or to start a fiscal year, Smith said. Through due diligence, he said, the council should make up for the deficit without relying on the estimated $960,000 fund balance.
Smith said the budget’s deficit should have been addressed earlier but changes in the town manager position left the town without the leadership needed to address budget concerns.
The council will interview the remaining three town manager candidates on Oct. 26. Smith said he hopes to have an appointment made by the end of the meeting.
Names of the individuals have yet to be released, and Smith declined to comment on the applicants’ qualifications.
However, he did say that he’s optimistic about the pool of applicants.
Council members fired Interim Town Manager Rod Hogan in late August, leaving the council with mixed feelings.
Smith said Hogan lacked the necessary skills to help town officials prepare the budget, but Haynes said Hogan’s performance was everything the council asked for.
Council members voted 3-2 in favor of severing ties with Hogan, with Hasty, Delashaw and Wintermute for the termination and Haynes and Krueger against.
Hogan was hired in the spring to replace former Town Manager Lyle Dresher, who resigned March 26 from the position after five years.
JOHN D. HARDEN can be reached at 940-566-6682. His e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org .