Two of Brookfield’s candidates for village president staged an impromptu debate on the state of the village’s finances during a meeting of the village board on Nov. 12.

Michael Towner, who announced in September he was breaking with the PEP Party to run as an independent, sparked the discussion during his report as the village board’s finance chairman.

He remarked that tax revenues continued to lag, pointing to year-to-date collection of intergovernmental and other taxes as evidence that the village was only beginning to see revenue coming in at 2008 levels.

“Our revenue is still lacking, in my opinion, from where we probably should be,” Towner told fellow trustees. “We’re just now getting to where we were in 2008.”

Towner pointed to state shared taxes (sales taxes, income tax and local use tax), saying that the village’s year-to-date collection of $2.5 million was short of 2008’s collection of $2.64 million. In addition, he said, other taxes (utility and amusement) were at $1.21 million year-to-date for 2012, while in 2008 they were at $1.26 million.

The village, he said was relying more on increases in fees to residents and fines. Fees in 2012 were at $1 million as of the end of October whereas in 2008 they were at $788,000. Fines were also up in 2012 to $362,700 versus 2008’s total of just over $200,000.

Towner said his points about revenues were simply informational, but one of his opponents in the 2013 race for village president, Trustee Kit Ketchmark, took the opportunity to try to paint Towner as someone looking for a tax referendum.

“You’ve said this before, that you think the solution is a tax increase,” said Ketchmark, the PEP Party’s nominee for president. “You sell that to the residents in this town who are feeling the exact same things we’re feeling here on the board.”

Towner referred to village staff’s warning back in 2008 that revenues and expenditures were not keeping pace and said that’s still the case. The village has to pay for infrastructure projects, large equipment purchases, staff raises and potential new employees.

Ketchmark argued that staff had responded to the recession by cutting expenditures – which Towner pointed out as losses to the ranks of police, firefighters and public works employees.

But Ketchmark made no apologies for those cuts, instead noting the village had taken on more staff than it needed to in previous years.

“Government grew here too quick, and revenues didn’t keep up with expenditures taken on, and I think staff made a lot of adjustments to account for that,” said Ketchmark. “We are doing fine in light of what’s been going on around us.”

Towner said he was in no way calling for a tax increase at this time but that he thought residents should have the opportunity to let village government know whether they would like to beef up services like police and fire protection.

“What I want is a choice for the people,” said Towner. “Services have been cut.

“We do have a balanced budget. … We’re down police officers from where we were in 2008, we’re down firemen from where we were in 2008, we’re down DPW workers from where we were in 2008, we’re down office staff from where we were in 2008.

“I think the public should decide on whether they want to change those services and have a voice in it. For some perspective on the village’s financial picture since 2008, Brookfield’s latest annual financial audit shows that total revenues declined by $1.23 million. But revenues climbed in both 2010 and 2011.

In 2011, total revenues were $16.49 million, slightly higher than 2008’s total revenues of $16.42 million.

Meanwhile expenditures in 2008 were $19.8 million. That dropped to $15.3 million in 2009 and climbed back up to $16.5 million in 2011.