Heated budget discussion Monday night
A discussion about the city’s budget got heated during the El Dorado City Commission meeting Monday evening.
Mayor Mike Fagg brought up the budget during new business in the meeting, saying he wanted to review the budget.
The other commissioners did not feel it was necessary, since they had been discussing it over several special meetings.
“You missed two meetings and you were late to two,” Commissioner David Chapin told Fagg.
Fagg asked what he missed at those.
“I couldn’t tell you what you missed,” Chapin said. “There was discussions.”
City Clerk Tabitha Sharp said the first special meeting was on department head presentations and the commission discussed with each department head what their budgets were next year and changes were made. The second meeting was on outside agencies.
“The commission had lengthy discussions about working together and the changes they wanted to see,” she said.
“Did we make change?” Fagg asked.
Sharp said they did make a change to Broncos funding and said next year they would be looking at changing some of the budgets for the outside agencies.
She also said city staff had made several changes to their budgets from the first one the commission received.
“These are all presentations,” Fagg said. “I attended three or four of them. Everyone one of these were at 4 o’clock in the afternoon. I took away from work three or four times. I couldn’t get away the other two times. I am still thinking we need to have a discussion after this is presented.”
He said he wanted everyone to know why he would be voting no on this – because he didn’t like the process.
“I wish you had been more vocal about that when we scheduled the meetings,” said Commissioner Chase Locke. “If that was something [of concern], we needed to have that discussion months ago to say we wanted to redo that process. We need to bring that up earlier.”
Fagg continued to voice other concerns.
“Herb, can you describe to me how we are going to pay for all of these increases,” he said.
“We’ve had this discussion,” Commissioner Nick Badwey said.
Llewellyn agreed, saying, “I believe I’ve told you. How many times do I need to tell you and I’ll tell you?”
“One more time,” Fagg said.
“We’re going to take care of it managing expenses with revenue,” Llewellyn said. “Just like your checkbook, just because you’ve got $100 in your checkbook, does it mean you’re going to spend it?”
Fagg then pointed out they have a budget for a reason.
“It slows down the trips to Tennessee to buy a dozen trees,” he told Llewellyn. “I like to have a budget to hold you accountable for what we’re doing.
“I haven’t bounced a check since I was here,” Llewellyn replied.
He questioned who set it.
“Mayor,” said Badwey,” I’m sorry if you don’t like the process. I don’t know what to tell you. The commission as a whole voted on it.”
Fagg still questioned why they would show increases if they were going to control it with expenses.
Llewellyn reiterated the example he gave at an earlier work session of personnel. He said they don’t’ know which employees will be leaving tomorrow or how many will have family insurance, so they have to budget as if every position was filled and everyone had full insurance.
“That was explained to us,” Badwey added.
Locke joined in saying he works for an operation that is under a pretty strict budget, but it was a similar situation.
“Just because you give a budget, that does not mean that is what we have to live and die by,” he said. “You have to make adjustments and you have to manage it. You have to plan for the worst.”
“I’m in a minority on this,” Fagg responded. “I felt like we should have had more discussion. I did my homework and I know the questions I had in here and I never really got to present that.”
Locke pointed out they agreed in the last work session, they were going to e-mail staff their questions, then decide if they should schedule another work session at their last meeting.
“That wasn’t brought up that Monday,” Locke said, explaining it was brought up later in that week and he couldn’t make it.
“From the time we got this and the time we could sit down and work on this was a very, very short time,” Fagg said.
“You’ve had that budget for months,” Llewellyn said. “You didn’t have the final all put together until a month ago, but you had that document a long time.”
Fagg then wanted to know if the document they had in front of them matched what was going in the paper for the legal publication on the budget.
“It is a different form,” Llewellyn said.
“I would like to see that and compare that to this,” Fagg said. “You all sign a budget that goes to Topeka and there are 30 pages to this we never see.”
Sharp told him they would receive the whole budget before they vote on it at the next meeting, as well as the newspaper publication.
“Everything will come to you, it does every year,” she said.
Fagg still said the one page summary didn’t show everything and he wanted all of the information.
“That’s just like the audit. The audit is only a book this thick,” he said holding his fingers apart a couple of inches, “but it goes through file cabinets for stuff.”
“The packet you have in front of you is where we pull information for that one page,” Sharp said.
Fagg then wanted to know what the total expenses were for next year.
Commissioner Bill Young told him city staff would probably know that answer if he had asked the question ahead of time so they could gather the information.
“I’m asking for the thing that goes to the paper,” Fagg said again.
Llewellyn told him they had the expenses they just had to add them all together.
Fagg then had a question on the unrealized gains and losses on investments listed on page 43.
“I move to terminate the budget discussion,” Badwey said before the question was answered.
It was seconded by Chapin.
“If you wanted real answers to the questions, you would e-mail so they could provide answers to you rather than getting on camera and blindsiding them,” Young told Fagg.
Fagg responded by saying, “Ladies and gentlemen, I did my work.”
“As did the rest of us,” Young countered and Locke agreed.
Badwey then called the vote, which was approved 5-0.
Julie Clements can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org