For some reason, certain city councilmembers had a problem adopting this year’s city budget.
Budgets are never easy, but this time around there was more than the usual confusion. For example, it took a month of punting before a vote was held. And when it was held at Tuesday’s council meeting, it took two — yes two — votes to pass it.
At first, a bare majority on council rejected the proposed 2012-2013 budget, but then later in the meeting Councilmember Mohammed Hassan had second thoughts and called for a revote.
It passed the second time around, but it was a needlessly painful process.
If the council had not passed the budget, it would have likely been late in submitting a budget to the state. That could have triggered the beginning of a state intervention, and the delay of an emergency $3 million state loan.
Unfortunately, the worst is yet to come.
If passing a budget was this difficult, wait until the council has to wrestle with a proposed deficit reduction plan.
The plan calls for shifting some costs, such as garbage collection and street lighting, to property owners.
Without the proposed fees the city won’t be able to climb out of a projected $3.5 million budget deficit.
It’s complicated stuff, for sure.
We think Acting City Manager Erik Tungate has cobbled together a very sensible budget deficit plan.
We will get into this more in the weeks to come, but we caution city councilmembers who may be opposing the plan now to think deeply about this. Because if the city does not come up with a plan – and no plan is ever going to be perfect – you can bet that the state will be coming in.
And when the state takes over, there will no longer be an option for local officials to guide decisions.