Council: Mayor can cut the budget
By By Fredie Carmichael . staff writer
Oct. 5, 2002
After trimming $300,000 from city spending, Meridian city councilmen said Friday they are finished and it's up to Mayor John Robert Smith to cut the remaining half-million dollars.
City Council President Mary Perry hand-delivered a letter to Smith's office, saying the council won't meet again on the city's $86 million budget for the fiscal year that started Tuesday.
A copy of the letter was unavailable Friday. Smith also could not be reached to comment on the city council's letter.
Smith had suggested earlier this week that the council meet in a work session to trim $800,000 from the city budget.
The council's letter is the latest twist in what has become a contentious debate over city spending for the current fiscal year.
Councilmen originally approved an $86.6 million budget two weeks ago, rejecting the mayor's request for a 10 percent increase in city water rates that would have raised $790,000.
Smith vetoed the budget, forcing the council to approve another funding proposal Monday one day before the start of the fiscal year. That budget included an 8 percent increase in water rates.
The new $86 million budget also required trimming $800,000 in city spending.
Councilmen met Thursday and trimmed nearly $300,000, including money for a street sweeper, furniture and appliances for the fire department and a video recorder for the police department.
Councilman Barbara Henson of Ward 3 and Bobby Smith of Ward 5 met after the Thursday meeting. They decided to write the mayor and tell him they were finished with the budget.
Henson said councilmen told the mayor in the letter that they trimmed what they could. She said they suggested the mayor cut the rest of the money from reserve funds it isn't expected to use this year.
Henson, Smith, Perry and Councilman George Thomas of Ward 1 signed the letter. Henson said Councilman Jesse Palmer Sr. of Ward 4 could not be found.
Henson said the council's job is to set the city tax rate and approve the annual budget. She and Councilman Smith said the mayor can do the rest.