Red Bank Commissioners on Tuesday night stuck with a 25-cent property tax increase and a $4-per-month rise in the garbage fee on second reading despite an overflow angry crowd.
A line of residents went to the podium with many opposing the increases. However, several said the extra property tax was necessary to bring improvements to Red Bank.
A number of longtime citizens said they want a return to the Red Bank of the 1960s, and several said they would move if they could sell their house.
Daniel Lewis said his family has lived in the house he occupies for almost a hundred years. He said, "Now I want to move out so bad." He said he has not had a raise on his job for six years.
John Ledford, who has been in Red Bank for 63 years, said, "I've got to the point where I hate Red Bank." He said, "I may die in Red Bank, but I won't be buried at the Duck Pond."
Carol Rose said when she went to buy a house there many years ago "you couldn't buy a house in Red Bank. You had to stand in line." She said she hopes it regains its "sense of community."
Ryan Jacobs said Red Bank is becoming more a place for "transients" than those who own their own homes. Noting the city's central location, he said, "Red Bank should be one of the most sought-after places. Yet, we are losing citizens."
Bonnie Brown said Red Bank is "a police state" with its red light and speed cameras and that keeps many people away. Commission members said when the current camera contract runs out in January, it won't be renewed.
Several spoke of rows of empty buildings on Dayton Boulevard.
Residents complained of crime with one telling about a bicycle and ladder being stolen from her yard, while another said his car was stolen out of his driveway. A woman said she never locked her doors - until about two years ago.
But Carla Quinn said she is excited about improvements to be gained by the new budget, including $2.1 million of paving work on the city's side streets.
Commissioner Ruth Jeno said the commission last year "cut the budget until it bled." She and other commission members said in addition to the paving there will be a fulltime codes enforcement officer and two parttime police officers.
Vice Mayor John Roberts said the capital improvements were necessary to try to return the city to its former glory. He said city leaders are actively recruiting new business.
Floy Pierce was the only commissioner to vote against the tax hike, saying she believed ways could have been found to carry out the improvements without raising taxes. She said City Manager John Alexander told her that the city's $4 million cash on hand is twice what is required.
The city is borrowing $2 million of the reserve fund to go toward the paving.
All commissioners present voted for the garbage fee increase. It will be billed quarterly. Officials said if someone does not pay, then their garbage can will be taken away.
Officials noted that the service not only includes garbage, but leaf and brush pickup as well as removal of large items.
Mayor Monty Millard was not present due to illness.