June 13 – Budget Work Session
- Budget was approved 6 to 2 with Councilors Cox and Buffkin objecting.
- Councilor Cox explained the situation as follows:
I voted against the budget. But before we voted on the budget Patrick Buffkin made a motion to raise taxes by half a penny to provide additional pay for first responders. I voted against this motion because it didn’t go nearly far enough to raise pay and did nothing to control spending in the budget.
There is enormous spending in the budget including $170 million for a 20 story high rise to replace the municipal building. And we have been privately briefed that the real cost will be $50 million more. Together this one expense equates to more than decade of pay raises as proposed by fire and police. With remote work and a changing work environment, a 20 story municipal building is an expense the city doesn’t need.
And there are other expenses. These include:
o $350,000 for a community engagement bus
o $135,000 for an artist in residence program
o 42% pay raise for Mayor plus increases in expense accounts
o 58% pay raises for Council members plus increases in expense accounts
o A standing proposal to spend up to $1 million for a large screen TV at the convention center.
The list goes on and there has been no effort to prioritize and control spending.
Mr. Buffkin’s proposal for a half penny tax increase was on top of an already 2 cent tax increase by the city, another 1.9 cent tax increase by the County, a 4 cent tax increase for a parks bond, and another tax increase for a school bond.
I wholeheartedly support better pay in line with what was proposed by the fire and police unions. However, I also support managing our expenses. It is this latter part that was missing from Mr. Buffkin’s proposal as well as the budget proposal.
Ultimately I voted against both.
June 14 – Council Work Session
- Customer Service Improvements Update – Planning and Development Department
- Urban Projects Group Reorganization – Planning and Development Department – Update – to be rescheduled