CRESTVIEW — On two 3-2 votes, the City Council has approved a .25 percent increase in property taxes and a $29,110,313.35 budget.
Council President Robyn Helt and Councilman Tom Gordon voted nay on both resolutions.
The motions to adopt the tax increase and budget were both made by Councilman Shannon Hayes and seconded by Councilman Joe Blocker. Councilman Mickey Rytman also voted in favor of the resolutions.
Crestview resident Thomas Simms chastised the council for not addressing operational issues that led to the increased budget and for failing to curb personnel expenses.
"It's impossible to live with 80 percent of the budget going to personnel," Simms said. "If my mortgage was 80 percent of my income, I couldn't survive."
After the vote, Helt, who had strongly implored her fellow council members to address these and other issues, said, 'I'm disgusted. I might as well trade in my car and go back to horse-and-buggy days."
During discussion she cautioned that increasing taxes without addressing operational issues was "unsustainable."
"If we're going to increase rates, we need to see some changes," Helt said.
Gordon also felt not enough cuts had been made, and called raising taxes "going after low-hanging fruit."
The adopted budget, which will come before the council for a final vote in two weeks, does not include any personnel cuts, but does require every city employee to take 32 hours of unpaid furlough.