Board approves new year budget in close vote

Published 5:00 am Thursday, September 7, 2006

The city’s new year $9.2 million general fund budget won narrow4-3 approval Tuesday after opposing aldermen voted against it overconcerns about singular items in the spending plan.

Following several work sessions to iron out details, the budgetwas among several routine items expected to gain quick approvallast night. However, Alderman at large Les Bumgarner raised thefirst budget objection over inclusion of aldermen in a 3 percentpay raise for city employees and elected officials except themayor.

“Voting myself a raise, that’s what I’m opposed to,” saidBumgarner, who had voiced similar objections during the earlierwork sessions.

Subscribe to our free email newsletter

Get the latest news sent to your inbox

Other aldermen then spoke up regarding various aspects ofrecreation department operations.

Alluding to the number of participants from the county, Ward SixAlderman Buddy Allen suggested seeking recreation departmentfunding assistance from the county in the future. Ward Two AldermanTerry Bates then renewed his long-standing concerns about a lack ofcity board input in recreation department operations.

“Nobody has been hearing me,” Bates said.

Bates said he opposed the budget because of plans to allocate$476,000 to the recreation department. The alderman brushed asidecomments from other officials that the city board is involvedthrough appointment of Brookhaven Parks Commission members whogovern the recreation department.

“When we see it’s not being run right, we should have a say-so,”Bates said.

Mayor Bob Massengill pointed out that Bates had not mentioned hisconcerns during the work sessions on the budget. The mayor, whoappeared to be frustrated at the unexpected budget discussion, cutoff Bates when the alderman began making comments and accusationsabout other funding sources for the recreation department.

“It’s too late to wait until the last hour to bring it up,”Massengill said.

The budget then was approved 4-3, with Bumgarner, Bates and WardOne Alderman Dorsey Cameron opposed.

Cameron did not immediately say why he was opposed to the budget.However, he said after the meeting he voted against the budget dueto concerns over a lack of uniforms last season for baseballprogram participants at the Dr. A.L. Lott Complex.

“The recreation department, I feel, didn’t come up with theirpart,” Cameron said.

Also after the formal meeting, Massengill met with several aldermento discuss ways to address their budget concerns during the worksessions. He indicated there could be “straw polls” at worksessions to demonstrate opposition to particular items, and thatwould also be a way to allow aldermen to support the overallbudget.

The city’s new budget year begins Oct. 1.