Tuesday, May 05, 2009

City Council Began Budget Discussions Tuesday

Kicked around the best way to tackle the issue

"This is the first in a series of meetings," City Manager Burris said at the Council luncheon today. He asked the City Council to give him an idea of how many meetings they thought they would like to hold in order to discuss and possibly make changes to Springfield's 2009-10 proposed fiscal budget.

On Friday, May 1, as the City Charter requires, Burris delivered a copy of the proposed budget to each member of the City Council. Councilman Jerry Compton, of course, received his copy a little later.

Springfield's Finance Director Mary Mannix Decker went through the budget, hitting the highlights and answering a few questions from Council members.

The City also released a new document with the budget. This year they published a smaller document, a summary, which targets the differences between last year's budget and the newly proposed budget. The document is 38 pages in length.

Also released today: a document outlining the repercussions of budgeted City contribution cuts to the City's non-profit service-agency partners.

Councilman Doug Burlison didn't believe the City Council would be able to give Burris a good idea about how many meetings they might want to hold to discuss the budget until they'd had a week to look it over, forming questions and comments. Other Council members agreed with Burlison.

Councilman John Rush felt he needed more time to understand the budget. He said he had been trying to figure out a systematic way of looking at it and had been unable to do so.

Decker said, in the past, they have gone over it page by page. And, while it is up to the City Council to decide their procedure, Decker suggested time might be better spent by considering specific critical issues.

They casually decided they would begin their discussion at the next City Council luncheon by looking over the changes from last year to this year's proposed budget and they specifically asked to hear from Parks Director Jodie Adams and the Director of the Springfield-Greene County Health Department Kevin Gibson.

Councilman Scott Bailes said discussing priorities would be more helpful to him as a starting point. He wondered about the wisdom of cutting the parks department in a couple of the areas cited. Bailes felt by instituting cuts at Mediacom Ice Park and other potential sales tax generating sites, if the Department would not be, not only absorbing the initial general fund budget contribution loss but, lose revenue from sales tax receipts. He wondered if the parks budget was restored in those areas, what might be cut in their stead. Burris noted the Parks Department had decided for themselves the areas in which they cut their budget to deal with the cut in contributions from the City, as proposed in the new budget.

All of the budget workshops will be televised on TV23 and available for viewing at their Web site.

In other news, Mayor Pro Tem Dan Chiles said he had talked with Mayor Jim O'Neal's wife over the telephone. She had indicated the Mayor had come through his hip replacement surgery very well. She said they are estimating the Mayor could be released from the hospital on Thursday or Friday.

Related: Proposed Springfield budget full of cuts Springfield News-Leader


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