Members appreciate input, participation from public, call for increased civility
By Rachel Ravina, Staff Writer
(May 16, 2019) After all was said and done, members of Berlin’s Mayor and Council reflected on the journey of the real property tax rate for fiscal year 2020’s budget.
Councilmen Elroy Brittingham and Dean Burrell observed there was much deliberation during an April 29 work session.
“We’ve discussed this, and we’ve settled on this rate, so I’m ready to vote on it,” Brittingham said.
Councilman Zack Tyndall opposed the real property tax increase from $.60 to $.80 per $100 of assessed value on Monday evening and urged
residents to continue providing their input.
“I encourage those of you that have become active during this budget cycle to remain active now and into the future,” Tyndall said in a statement sent to the Bayside Gazette. “The fate of Berlin depends on it.”
Burrell said appreciated the constructive feedback from the public throughout the process.
“But you have provided an invaluable service to us as your town leaders, and to your community in general, just by coming here and saying what you think, [and] what you would like to see,” Burrell said.
Councilman Thom Gulyas said his fifth budget cycle has been unlike those of past years.
“We encourage the input, but to sit up here some nights for three or four hours and have people screaming at
you, to be threatened on the street, that’s just uncalled for,” he said.
Gulyas was absent from last Monday’s work session because of personal circumstances, but still had some interruption Monday night, as he spoke about the difficulties he faced.
“It’s not easy sitting up here and looking at all of you trying to make a decision like this,” he said. “It’s – hang on,” he said to a member of the audience who interrupted him, “you’ve had four months, I’m asking for three minutes, that’s it. That’s it.”
Gulyas’ displeasure with some of the tactics employed by tax increase opponents also included what he said was a false allegation that a council member “made backroom deals on a piece of property.”
“It’s insulting guys,” he said.
Gulyas also spoke with area residents about various infrastructure projects they deemed necessary, but said there can be mounting expenses for repairing aging roads the right way.
“But you guys are gonna want those things done, we just can’t not do it,” Gulyas said. “We have to do something.”
He also called for civility and reminded the audience that elected officials are also Berlin residents.
“We live here too. We do,” Gulyas said. “We have to feel the same pain that you do, so believe me I am open for any other suggestions going from this date forward, but for the love of God just give us a little respect too.”
“We are not trying to shortchange you,” Gulyas continued. “We are not trying to put you out of your homes, but if you guys have a great idea, by God we want to hear it. We really do want to hear it.”
Additionally, Burrell said he was touched by the public’s enthusiasm throughout the process. He vowed to continue listening and welcomed their participation.
“I think … your input, and your concern, and your comments, and your genuine interest has made me a better council person, and for that I want to thank you, and I encourage your continued participation, and your continued input because it can only make us better and make us a better town in general,” Burrell said.