Council’s role in financial decisions goes too far

We know city officials are attempting to prevent a financial meltdown.

But sometimes they overreach.

Take, for example, what happened at a special meeting on Tuesday. Councilmember Cathie Gordon proposed that any city expenditure more than $1,500 has to first get council approval.

Unfortunately, Councilmembers Abdul Algazali and Robert Zwolak agreed with the proposal, and with their support, it passed. (Councilmember Anam Miah was absent for this portion of the meeting.)

What this proposal does is ratchet up the crazy.

What will happen if a water main breaks and needs immediate repairs? There are dozens of other examples of how this resolution could grind the city to a halt.

On top of all that, the resolution attempts to thwart the city’s existing ordinance which restricts the council’s role in approving purchases. The ordinance says the council weighs in only when expenses are $10,000 and above.

In other words, this resolution violates the ordinance, and in reality has no teeth. The council can only change an ordinance with a new ordinance – not a resolution.

Councilmember Zwolak is right to be concerned about what he called “willy-nilly” spending in light of a growing budget deficit.

But making “willy-nilly” resolutions doesn’t help matters either.

This is a time to either trust the Acting City Manager and allow him to make the financial decisions, or else find a new one that everyone on council supports. Resolutions like this will only undermine the efforts being made to keep the city afloat.

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