Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Budget Study Session

MEETING REPORT - SUCH AS IT IS
It's the wee hours Wednesday morning and I thought I'd give you what little I know of the results of the budget study session yesterday afternoon/evening.

MANSOOR AND BEVER LATE
The session was scheduled to start at 4:3
0, which it did, although without our young jailer/mayor and his former pal, Eric Bever in attendance. Both arrived at this most important study session in their careers late - Mansoor was a half hour late.

NOT MUCH RESIDENT INTEREST

Word has it that there were few residents in attendance at this event, although I don't have a head count. I'm
told fewer than 6 showed up.

UNFULFILLED ANTICIPATION

However, the meeting went on, and on, and on and... well, you get the picture. I sat at home, flipping my television changer b
etween the Laker game and CMTV, waiting for the much-anticipated post-study session adjourned council meeting. For an hour and a half I kept reading the card on the screen promising that the council was wrapping up the study session and the special council meeting would start soon... it didn't.

ROEDER SAYS NO COUNCIL MEETING LAST NIGHT

Finally, after 8 p.m., Allan Roeder and City Clerk Julie Folcik showed up on the screen for about one minute to tell us that there would be no council meeting
Tuesday night, and that any "direction to staff" on the budget would occur at the next regularly scheduled meeting on Tuesday, June 16th. That's going to make it very, very tight if the council, in it's infinite wisdom, decides to send the staff back to hammer out budget issues, because the balanced budget is due on July 1.

REPLAY SCHEDULE
The study ses
sion went much longer than expected and I'm led to believe that much of the dialogue revolved around trimming things like recreation programs - important after school programs that affect many families in our city - instead of working on areas where large dollars can be saved. The session will play on CMTV today at noon, according to the schedule presently posted. Here's the remainder of the schedule:

CITY COUNCIL STUDY SESSION, 6/9/09

(Revised)*
* Because the study session ran long the replay schedule has been revised

TOUGH ISSUES THIS YEAR
In fairness to the council, this year is more complex than any previous year because of the many unknown
s. We don't, for example, know for sure that the state is going to steal, er, borrow 8% of our Property Tax revenue, but it seems like a pretty sure thing. We also don't know just how much longer Sales Tax revenue will decline. We also don't know if we're in line for some stimulus money to hire more cops, as has been rumored. We don't know whether Marc Puckett's work trying to get some of the city's Lehman Brothers investment back has been successful - that's a $5 million question.

THE 800 POUND GORILLA

We also don't know for sure whether the employee unions are going to cooperate with the proposed 5% cuts that were specified in the staff's 10 point plan. It's hard to make good decisions with so many questions still unanswered.

WORKSHOP PENDING

I intend to be at the public budget workshop on Thursday evening. With any luck at all, some of these very significant variables may be closer to resolution. In the meantime, the clock ticks on the budget...

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