Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Poof, the Mayor’s Event Center Cookie Jar is gone!

After listening to Monday night’s City Council meeting, it is clear to me that there are some members of the City Council, as well as the mayor, who don’t seem competent to understand the budgetary process or how it works. When the Mayor says he has the education but doesn’t understand the resolution, I have to scratch my head. Is that because this is government budgeting and not bank budgeting? I seem to recall that the mayor said there was no difference between private and public accounting and finance.
When Entenmen and Litz say they don’t understand the language, I have to ask, where have they been for the last 3 ½ months? They asked what the goal meant. Are you kidding me? It is pretty simple. A goal – the end towards which effort is directed.  Right out of the dictionary. It means to aim, aspire to, intent, etc. If you have any business experience, you know what is meant by a goal. I don’t get Rolfing at all.  He is a member of the Fiscal Committee which worked on this resolution. He was all over the place.
The resolution says:
·         the city should “aspire to” maintain a monthly cash balance of 11% of the general fund budget and by December 31 the city should have a general fund balance of 25% of the general fund budget. What is hard to understand about that, I ask you? If the monthly cash balance falls below 11% or at year end the fund reserve falls below 25%, the Mayor has to provide the Council an explanation and a plan to replenish the balance.
·         The Mayor’s proposed general fund budget’s revenues and expenditures must balance and he can’t use the reserve fund to balance the budget for a fiscal year. If he wants to use the general reserve fund money to balance his proposed budget, he has to provide a statement justifying the use of the cash reserve fund to the Council. Pretty simple to understand.
·         If the Mayor’s proposed revenues in his proposed budget are the result of an increase in fees, taxes, etc. it must be presented to the City Council by ordinance or ordinance amendment for their approval prior to the submission of his proposed budget. This something that has been required of the administration already and is not new.
The Mayor constantly touts his business acumen as a plus as mayor.  Why can’t he understand this resolution? I surmise that he understands it.  He just doesn’t like it because it ties his hands and requires him to go the Council to spend the general fund reserves.  In my opinion, he wanted it deferred so he could have time to convince other members of city council to support his position so he can kill this resolution coming out of the fiscal committee.
I do not believe that the Mayor is confused. He is a smart man. I also believe every one of the department heads understand the resolution.  Why?  Because the resolution is proposing the same concept that was passed in 2007 and is something the administration has lived with and operated under all these past years. I have to admit that I didn’t like it when it was proposed and drafted in 2007 and argued with both Rowenhorst and Colwill about the language which I thought bound the Mayor’s ability to manage his budget. Colwill and Rowenhorst were very much part of the discussion with the Council back in 2007 and were both supportive of the resolution language, much to my chagrin.
This whole thing is a ruse. If the Mayor does not understand this resolution, then I worry how he can possibly manage the huge city budget as a whole. To blame staff and say they have not adequately explained it to him is appalling. When going down in defeat, blame your staff.  That is a bullying tactic that is unbecoming behavior of a leader and the office of mayor. The buck stops with the top dog.
The bottom line is this resolution doesn’t tie the mayor’s hands, it just requires him to go to the City Council first. OK, it may be a pain, but work with the City Council, Mayor.  That is what you said you would do when you became Mayor.

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