"Is there any white smoke?"
That was the quip from one town official after the Town Council decided to send an $80,599,160 budget to the town meeting and before Finance Officer and Treasurer James Luddecke could calculate a new estimated mill rate.
With the nervousness and pacing that took place during the process, it could have been even more nerve-wracking than electing a Pope.
Before getting to the bottom line, which would raise the tax rate from its current level of 29.9 mills to 33.63 mills, the council took $747,272 out of Mayor George Apel's proposal for the 2012-13 fiscal year.
And it took nearly four hours on Monday to finish the deliberations.
Here are a few highlights from the meeting:
• $220,000 was taken out of the school board budget, based on an insurance savings of more than $290,000. A new insurance contract was recently completed. The vote was unanimous.
• Council member Thomas DiDio, a Democrat, moved that $10,000 be added to the Fire Department account for breathing apparatus. It was rejected 7-4 along party lines.
• DiDio also moved that $25,100 be added to the police account for a new vehicle. It was rejected 7-4 along party lines.
• Six Republicans voted to take $5,000 earmarked for the Rockville Downtown Association out of an economic development account. The four Democrats present and Republican Brian Motola were not in favor of the move. Democrat Michael Winkler said he "was about to commend the mayor for this," before the money was taken out.
• Democratic council member Thomassina Russell moved to put back to the $10,000 taken from the Hockanum Valley Community Council account. The HVCC runs a food pantry. Russell was visibility upset when it was rejected and vowed that residents have not heard the end from her regarding that money.
• Parks and Recreation Director Bruce Dinnie called himself on a $650 line item to acquire new radios. The police recently donated 15 used radios to the department, so the m,one was not needed, he said.