Council Frames Budget Cuts
Finance Director Ray Daniels and CFO Peter Sepelya, both key figures in the budget process, left City Hall this month. Dashield said Wednesday he feels he has adequate staff to deal with the proposed amendments, but it might take time. A budget hearing on the introduced budget is scheduled for Monday (Dec. 17, 2007) but approval of amendments and final budget passage may not take place until January.
As introduced in September, the budget reflects a 43.6 million increase that translates to $327 more in taxes on the average $113,000 home.
Among the proposed cuts are $75,000 in seasonal employee pay from Recreation, $105,000 in overtime from the Police Division and $80,000 from the Fire Division. Rashid Burney, chairman of the council’s finance committee, also suggested doing away with the certificate of occupancy process, calling it duplicative of private home inspections at the time of sale.
(This writer commented on the discussion, which appeared to be more about the city’s Certificate of Compliance ordinance than the certificate of occupancy requirement. More on that later.)
The proposed elimination of a principal planner position was also discussed at length, with council members Cory Storch and Burney speaking in favor of retaining the position. Planning Director Bill Nierstedt submitted a memo to the council urging retention of the position in the overworked Planning Division, but Dashield upheld the administration’s view that the position must go.
Storch reminded the council that the ultimate decision rests with the governing body.
Only four citizens attended the budget session, even though taxpayers are facing an 8.5 percent increase unless cuts are made. The proposed cuts, along with the infusion of $800,000 in extraordinary state aid, would lessen the impact to about a 5 percent increase.
(Due to meeting fatigue, Plaintalker did not take highly detailed notes Wednesday. Generally, the current City Council is carrying out the budget process in a sensible, collegial fashion. Each member summed up his or her views at the end of the meeting. Noting the very small public turnout, Councilwoman Linda Carter said residents will face a tax impact and the governing body needs to educate them on it.)