Ken Horn and Manuell Smith left the meeting after Smith read a prepared statement to Mayor Sam Wright and the other three council members. Smith said he did not believe it was his responsibility, or any other member of the council, to “work this budget out.”
“I will not be back until a proper budget is prepared by our mayor and presented to this council,” he said. “I have attended too many discussion meetings already, and I am going to stop wasting my time until a proper budget is prepared and presented by this mayor to me as a councilperson.”
Smith gave the mayor and council members copies of his statement and left the mayor’s conference room. Horn also left but did not give any verbal or written statement.
Councilman Walter Jacobson said he believed the meetings with city department and local organization representatives were “extremely beneficial” in helping city officials find ways to balance the budget.
“I don’t feel like we have wasted anything,” Jacobson said. “I have learned a lot every time. I appreciated the department heads coming in so we could learn what is going with them and where their money is going. That is important for me.”
Smith said he also proposed a 10 percent cut to all city departments, agencies and appropriations to balance the budget, as well as no salary increases or step raises to city employees.
Wright said he did not foresee making those cuts at this time. He said he wanted to continue meeting with organizations to discuss their funding needs before making cuts.
Wright also said Smith’s proposed cut could mean job losses for some city employees.
“Ten percent across the board sounds good on the surface,” he said. “But when you start getting into it, how would it affect everybody?”
Discussions for the fiscal 2010 budget went past Oct. 1, which marked the beginning of the fiscal year. During that time, the mayor presented four balanced versions of the budget before the council approved one Nov. 4.
Council president Jim Heigl said he wanted the council to work with the mayor and city clerk in the early stages to come to an agreement on the 2011 budget before the fiscal year began.
“I recommended that everyone work together, rather than shuffle (the budget) back and forth, to expedite it and get it finished,” Heigl said. “But as we saw today, that is not going to work.”
Also at the work session, the mayor and council discussed an accounting error on a repayment of a 2002 municipal bond.
The error resulted in an overpayment from the city’s ad valorem tax fund of approximately $155,000 on a bond repayment. City clerk Patricia Carden provided The Daily Home an e-mail sent to her in May by accounting manager Karen Beane acknowledging the error.
The e-mail stated the funding would be replaced into the tax fund from the city’s general fund.
According to information provided by the city clerk’s office, there were two bond issues that year, one with payments scheduled to 2010, one with payments scheduled to 2017. But a repayment schedule by an independent auditor mistakenly combined the two.
The error was found after city officials began discussing a new bond issue.
In other business:
• The council met with representatives from Boys Club, TCR Childcare, Talladega County Health Department and Isabel Comer Museum to discuss funding. They planned to meet with four more organizations at their next scheduled meeting at 9:30 a.m. Wednesday.