That Sinking Feeling
The gathering at the empty building was supposed to be a budget session from 7 to 10 p.m., but it was soon apparent that there was no quorum of City Council members. By 7:40 p.m., there was still no quorum, although city officials were on hand to explain their budget requests and members of the volunteer Citizens Budget Advisory Committee were present to listen to them.
Finally Councilwoman Linda Carter suggested the time could be used for CBAC members to ask questions for City Administrator Marc Dashield to answer. Dashield reviewed the budget process, then answered both previously submitted questions and some from the floor.
After city officials defined rules for furloughs (they must be voluntary and negotiated) and no more council members showed up, a CBAC member joked, "Half the City Council is on a furlough tonight."
Considering the announced schedule of four budget sessions and one on the capital budget through Dec. 17, CBAC members wanted to know whether more sessions would be set to make up the presentations, with one CBAC member pondering whether the group would be sitting under the Christmas tree hearing budget requests.
The schedule is already behind, as the Inspections Division was supposed to be up for questioning Dec. 1 and was pushed to Dec. 3 and is now still unheard. Answers on future dates in December were inconclusive.
With not much more to be accomnplished, the council concluded the session at 8:40 p.m., but then Councilman Adrian Mapp arrived a few minutes later, prompting one citizen to suggest the meeting's theme should be the Groucho Marx song, "Hello, I must Be Going."
In all, it verged on an exercise in futility and this writer was glad to be home before 9 p.m.
The next budget session is 7 p.m. Wednesday, Dec. 9, also at the old senior center at 305 East Front Street.