Tuesday, July 26, 2005

CITY COUNCIL: Finance committee presentation tonight

A three-member City Council finance committee is seeking full council approval for new initiatives that would cost $360,000 and increase the governing body’s own budget by 215 percent.

The committee’s line-by-line budget cuts totaling $890,881 and the new proposals will be up for discussion from 7 to 9 p.m. tonight (July 26, 2005) in City Hall Library. Time will be allotted for the public to speak.

Committee members Cory Storch, Rayland Van Blake and Ray Blanco developed their plans over several weeks of scrutinizing the $61 million budget the administration has proposed for the fiscal year that began July 1.

The committee proposes spending $56,000 to televise council agenda sessions so residents can “view the thought process” of the governing body. Another $52,500 would be split equally among the seven council members to improve communication with constituents through newsletters, television programs or local community organizers.

The “College Scholars Public Service Initiative” would provide each member with a full-time trainee “to nurture the next generation of public servants” at a cost of $52,500.

The committee recommends an increase of $70,000 for youth employment after school, $7,000 to support and recognize senior citizens, $50,000 for new trees, $42,000 for the arts, $5,000 more for Pop Warner Baseball and $25,000 for an outside management consultant for the code enforcement program.

The council began budget deliberations two weeks ago, starting with capital improvements. Members have also interviewed Public Works Superintendent John Louise, Deputy City Administrator Pat Ballard Fox, Public Safety Director Jiles Ship, Acting Police Chief Steven Soltys, City Engineer Carl Turner and Inspections Division Director Jocelyn Pringley.

Tonight’s meeting is scheduled to be solely devoted to the Finance Committee’s report.

--Bernice Paglia

KEYWORDS: city council, finance, budget