Lesson learned on the budget

Published 9:05 pm Saturday, May 2, 2015

It’s always amazing what folks can do when they’re properly motivated.

When a unanimous City Council directed City Manager Selena Cuffee-Glenn to take another run at the city budget, there was confidence that a second effort would result in the discovery of sufficient money to fully fund the School Board’s budget. A fully funded school budget would allow the school system to fully implement the recommendations from a salary study that showed teachers and many other school employees to be severely underpaid.

Cuffee-Glenn’s initial budget proposal had recommended a four-cent increase in the city’s real estate tax, and it had anticipated meeting only half of the first phase of the consultant’s salary-study recommendations for the school system.


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To its credit, City Council was unwilling to accept the first effort as the last word on the matter. During their April 15 meeting, members directed the city manager to find the extra money in the budget necessary to take the rare step of giving the school system all the money it had asked for.

To her credit, Cuffee-Glenn got together with Commissioner of Revenue Susan Draper and determined that some revenue projections had been overly conservative. Further, she worked with department heads to reduce expenditures and “scrub budgets.”

The final result, Cuffee-Glenn stated in a letter to council members, was that she was successful in finding the money needed to fully fund the school system’s budget request. And she did so without it being necessary to raise the real estate tax beyond the four-cent hike city council already was considering.

Considering how relatively painless the process appears to have been, one wonders whether such a commitment to making something happen could have made a difference in the school system’s favor during last year’s budget cycle, or the one before that, or the one….

Ah, but such musings hardly ever have edifying results. Better at this point to congratulate everyone what seems to have been accomplished this year and chalk all of the rest of it up to lessons learned. One can only hope the lessons last beyond the current budget cycle.