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Tiburon trims spending on road work in approving final budget

Tiburon councilmembers last week patched together the town’s final 2023-2024 budget, cutting about $1.26 million in spending from road-maintenance projects on one councilmember’s concerns about a large draw on reserves.

In a series of 3-0 votes, the Town Council on June 21 approved a $25.3 million budget for fiscal 2024, which begins July 1, down from the $26.5 million draft presented earlier this month. The operating budget remained unchanged from the draft at $16.02 million against revenue of $16.03 million. That’s up about 5% from last year’s $15.2 million operating budget against $15.3 million in revenue.

But projected spending for infrastructure projects, an appropriation from the overall budget called the capital-improvement program, was cut from $8.04 million in the draft to $6.78 million in the final budget on pressure from Vice Mayor Jon Welner.

“I was a bit aghast at the size of the proposed capital spending,” he said. “I think we have to apply some kind of limits to it.”

Votes on spending require a majority of the full five-member council, but with an ongoing vacancy and Councilmember Holli Thier absent for the second consecutive meeting, Welner had the power to quash the separate awards of three major road-maintenance projects.

That created courteous but clear friction with Mayor Jack Ryan and Councilmember Alice Fredericks, who wanted to proceed without cuts but acknowledged they needed three yes votes to get the projects into the budget at all.

“I want to do as much as we can, so let’s figure out what ‘as much as we can’ is, because zero, I think, is a terrible outcome,” Ryan said.

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