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Letter to the Editor: Commissioner Duke responds to Dave Gilroy

OPINION. By Jim Duke. I read with interest former Commissioner Gilroy’s Letter to the Editor (June 24) regarding taxes that are “Baked into the Cake” and found a familiar theme. I would like to take this opportunity to respectfully disagree with his position and perhaps supply a few pertinent facts to support an alternative view of how our Town works!

First, the notion of “spending other people’s money” conveys an attitude of indifference that is altogether misleading. There is no single budget decision that goes without scrutiny and careful consideration. The fact that this year nearly $ 1.8 million was cut from the mix and yielded a nearly flat year over year spending plan sends a solidly different message. Commissioners and staff are guiding the expenditure of Town resources—“our money”—for the benefit of all citizens. Are we being conservative in our spending?

You bet we are!


Another notion proposed is that our Town is sitting idly on a mass of cash that could be invested in higher paying “investments.” All municipalities in North Carolina must adhere to state regulation for invested funds. And, while Cornelius has obtained limited authority beyond regulation, we cannot cavalierly invest in instruments that present risk of loss to the community.

Your money is safe and is being accrued to pay for at least a half dozen road projects that our residents demand.

Dave exercises what I like to call “Small Town Thinking” and in fact his influence over the many years as a commissioner has held our Town back. We have accumulated a fair share of debt and address that problem together with an exceptionally low tax collection strategy.

Not only do we have the lowest tax rate in Mecklenburg County, the Town of Cornelius compensation levels are historically at the bottom when ranked against North Carolina towns of similar size.

This has led to the poaching of police officers and top-quality staff. Efforts to adjust key compensation levels has staunched the outflow of key folks, but we are still vulnerable to towns willing to pay more and avoid the expense of training new staff.

Lastly, Dave’s “blank check” analogy that he wishes to foist upon public safety spending and the Board in general is patently wrong and promotes an “I will save you” message to promote his standing in our community. If you look closely at this year’s budget, you will see no blank check, but rather legitimate needs being addressed judiciously.

I just hope that folks will look beyond the rhetoric and recognize that our citizens elected an exceptional Board of Commissioners that are looking out for what is best for Cornelius.

—Jim Duke

Duke is a three term Commissioner with considerable high-level governmental budgeting experience and fiscal expertise. Jim may likely be facing Mr. Gilroy next election.