Many Council decisions are based on information they may or may not know. Most of what they know is presented by staff who determines what is said and what is not. Who knows what when is extremely important.
There were many meetings on the budget. The best took place on November 17, 2009 followed by the meeting on December 1st, 2009. There were inconsistencies galore, enough to make your head swim.
The practice of manipulating data can best be seen by watching the December 1st budget meeting. At about 52 minutes into the meeting, Councilmember Asher in an attempt to understand why there were so many city layoffs when the money was there to save their jobs asked, “What should I have asked …” (of staff before making a decision). He wanted to know. At the same meeting, Councilmember Greenway pointed out the money needed to save jobs and maintain service was a shortfall created by the transferring of $2.1 million from one fund to another, a fund to pay for annexation ramp up expenses. Up until that point, the money was there.
We saw much of the same song and dance at the June 1st Capital Improvement Program (CIP) meeting when staff presented where the money was coming from to pay for it. Massive fund transfers were proposed from previously untapped sources that included dedicated funds leaving our unfunded projects very much in the red along with adverse impacts to the general fund that pays for operations. Our quality of life is in question.
Is it any wonder why the Council is so inconsistent? We need more Councilmembers like Councilmember Asher to ask the same question he felt needed to be answered before making a decision.