Saturday, February 02, 2008

Special Meeting Monday

The City Council will hold a special meeting at 8 p.m. Monday to authorize "emergency temporary appropriations" to run the city this month.

There is no budget in place for the FY 2008 year that started July 1, 2007. The council can make one three-month appropriation with the assumption that the budget will be in place by the time it expires. Then, each month, the council must make emergency appropriations equal to 1/12th of the prior year's budget until the new budget is final.

I don't recall any mention of upcoming budget meetings. The problem with passing a budget in the third quarter of the year is, obviously, the city has already paid out salaries and expenses for most of the year. That doesn't leave much wiggle room for cuts.

Those who attended the Jan. 24 meeting may recall a resolution to make emergency appropriations for February. Apparently there was a problem, or they wouldn't have to do it over. Probably it was the fact that there were only four of seven council members present, when five are needed for fiscal matters.

So the city will be four days into the month before money to operate the municipal government is appropriated.

At present, there is no new director of Administration & Finance. City Administrator Marc Dashield is covering that post in addition to his own, since A. Raiford Daniels left last year. Chief financial officer Peter Sepelya also left at the end of 2007 and there is someone holding that post in acting capacity.

Granted, the first February presidential primary is a distraction, but shouldn't the FY 2008 budget be front and center regardless?

The 7:30 p.m. agenda-fixing session and 8 p.m. special meeting will be held in City Hall Library, 515 Watchung Ave.

--Bernice Paglia


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