Eureka council making budget moves
EUREKA SPRINGS -- Eureka Springs City Council met in a workshop setting Tuesday night to try to resolve its impasse on a 2012 budget for the city. Finance director Lonnie Clark led the aldermen through a tour of the budget page by page, pointing out a few landmarks along the way and answering a handful of questions.
After perusal of the budget, alderman Lany Ballance asked why they were being asked to vote on a budget ordinance and not a budget resolution. Clark asked why it mattered.
Alderman Ken Pownall said that the four most recent financial transactions they have voted on have been resolutions, and alderman Butch Berry responded that resolutions are easier to change although both have been used through the years. Alderman James DeVito replied that it doesn't matter to him, but first there needs to be a budget that they agree on.
Alderman Parker Raphael said he was concerned about not enough money in the budget for Public Works to make improvements needed around town.
After further discussion, Pownall announced that he wanted the Fire Department to be funded at 100 percent of the amount in the proposed budget. Ballance said she wanted to see them stay within their budget. She said if department heads can't stay within their budgets, then the city should get someone who can.
Pownall then announced he wanted $200,000 to go toward the Water Department and Public Works. He said, "If that's in, I'm good to go with this budget. At least $100,000. Put some money there so we can move forward."
DeVito answered that they need a plan first. "We can't throw $100,000 and hope it hits the spot."
Mayor Morris Pate pointed out that Public Works did not ask for any increases in their budget requests.
Berry observed that council should probably converse with Public Works Director Dwayne Allen before obligating him with what they intend him to do with the money, and also they must make sure the city is going to have the money.
Pownall said, "I came in here expecting to resolve this tonight and have a special meeting in a couple of days to vote on it." He said he just wants them to get a budget and they can tweak it down the road.
Berry suggested they simply convert the proposed ordinance to a resolution, and Pownall said he would withdraw his suggestion of putting the extra money into it now so they could move forward.
After a quick recess, Pownall stated he would be willing to go with the budget being proposed and have a special meeting in 48 hours to vote on the budget.
Ballance disagreed. She preferred to draw the budget line low for the departments. She supported the 20 percent cut.
Berry asked if she was maintaining she wanted a 20 percent cut for the Fire Department as well, and she replied it was better to start low and then add to the budget if they could.
Berry insisted the city cannot cut ambulance service and compromise existing contracts.
Pownall then said he admitted he had made a mistake by including the Fire Department and other items in his motion to cut departments by 20 percent. He suggested instead that they change the proposed ordinance to a resolution, assign it a number and then discuss it before voting.
Council agreed on Thursday, Feb. 9, for a special meeting to discuss the resolution.