Council Extra II

Published 12:00 am Saturday, June 3, 2006

We left off with Councilman Barlow suggesting that if budget cuts need to be made, the schools need to share in the sacrifice. I said he was the only one who broached the subject, but Councilman Bennett did, too. He said he talked to school officials and they indicated they could perhaps do without some of the things they want.

Councilman Jones offered up some good comments, taking on recycling and the $600,000 HRT contribution in particular:

“We’re still going around in circles. I don’t see how we’re going to get anywhere. It’s being driven by growth and its being driven by new initiatives we put into place this year … Recycling’s a good thing to do, but we’ve got 12,000 houses we pay for recycling and we’ve got 25 percent of houses participating … HRT, $603,000 —


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that’s what we’ll pay this year. We took in $60,000 in fares … I’ve heard comments that we could send a taxi cab to pick them up and it would be cheaper. We say we want to run this like a business and that’s a business we would get rid of.”

“For us to come together and ask for us to agree on every cut and every change is going to be impossible. I do believe we can agree on the amount of reduction. Let the city manager prepare the budget. It’s time for us to make a decision and move on. We’re having these discussions over and over and as Curtis says we’re not getting any traction in the river. We’re in the same place we started. I don’t know how every body else feels but if somebody’s ready to establish a rate let’s do it and get headed down the road.”

Then, things got even more interesting.

Councilman Milteer noted that by law that the city has the opportunity to amend its budget any time during the year, hinting that no matter what this council does, the new council that’s seated in July might undo it.

Then the city attorney noted that they could even change the mill rate anytime during the year if they so desired. At least I think that’s what he said.

Milteer pushed again for bigger cuts.

“You just don’t give people everything they ask for. If we do, Rockefeller would be on welfare.

“Were going to have to tighten our belts to live within our own means.”

He then made his motion for the 16-cent rate cut.

Johnson seconded.

The Brown jumped on Jones’ comments about HRT and noted cutting that funding would only hurt the poor who can’t afford a car and need to get to work.

“I think the worst thing in the world is to cut transportation when people need to get to their jobs. Are you saying you don’t care about the poor people in this city?

“You cannot cut progress. We all have to sacrifice. We all got a little fat here and we’ve got a little fat here. We can cut the budget …”

Brown also suggested leaving the cuts up to the department heads.

“We’re not about negative impact,” he said. “We’re about having a positive impact on people. So if you show me it’s not going to be a negative impact, I’ll vote for it now.”

Johnson then said there was no point in voting on Milteer’s 16-cent proposal because it was obvious Ralph, Jones, Barlow and Brown would vote against it. Milteer withdrew it.

That’s when Bennett offered up his 13-cent compromise.

“The city manager says he can come up with 10; Councilman Milteer says 16. I’d like to have a compromise where we’ve got 13 and put us at 93 cents instead of 90 cents. I think we could compromise at 13 and that’s kind of in the middle of what everybody is saying so we can move forward.”

When nobody seconded Bennett’s proposal, Barlow offered his 12-cent motion.

Milteer then finished the discussion with a stern warning:

“Ladies and Gentleman. We are sending a wrong signal to the public,” he said. “Now we’re playing dodge ball. I can’t support the motion on the floor. Maybe you don’t need my vote but there will come a time when you do need it.”

Barlow’s motion passed 4-3, with Barlow, Brown, Ralph and Jones supporting it.