City staves off payless paydays, for now

By Charles Sercombe

A public hearing is set for the city’s new budget on May 22, but guess what’s missing?

An actual budget for the public to look at.

At least that was the situation as of Thursday when The Review went to press.

Councilmember Cathie Gordon said that’s also news to her.

“You can’t present a budget in a public hearing without getting the budget approved by council first,” Gordon said.

There is a budget, reportedly, in the hands of Acting City Manager Erik Tungate. Tungate could not be reached for comment at press time.

Gordon said she talked with Tungate about the budget, and said it included revenue from an expected state loan worth $3 million.

The city is looking at a $3.4 million budget deficit in the coming year. Some of that deficit is expected to be trimmed through labor concessions from city employees, including police officers and firefighters.

In the meantime, the city was looking at payless paydays after this week. But a divided council approved a plan for the city to borrow money from other city departments.

Tungate asked for permission to borrow $1 million from the Water Department and the street repair fund.
Councilmember Gordon opposed the loan, saying all it will do is create a larger deficit, and that “you’re just kicking the can.”

Councilmember Robert Zwolak was also opposed it, saying before the city takes a loan from the street repair fund, streets that have been patched over for years – such as Hewitt — should first be repaired.

Tungate and Finance Director Nevrus Nazarko stressed that without the loan, there will be payless paydays.

Tungate said if that happens, it will result in bringing in a state-appointed emergency financial manager.

The council split on the loan, and it required Mayor Karen Majewski to cast her vote.

“Of course yes,” she said in support of the loan. “I’m not going to allow us to go broke.”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *