Clarksville, TN – The city council met in a special budget session Thursday evening that started at 5:30pm and did not finish until 11:00pm. There are many details that I will pass on to you, but due to the lateness of the hour I will send that tomorrow (Friday).
However, I will tell you the mayor’s proposed budget passed by a 7-yes and 6-no vote. Only the mayor’s vote allowed the budget to pass this first round. I voted “no” as I have many issues with this budget.
While the mayor has stated this budget is balanced it is done so by borrowing $2.7 million, that has to be paid back in 5 years, and taking $2.2 million out of the Capital Projects Revenue District (CPRD). Projects such as the $750,000 for the Veteran’s home, $600,000 for the equipment upgrades for the museum and $1 million to pay for the airport terminal could have all been paid out of the CPRD and paid off immediately. However, the mayor wishes to borrow the money to fund these projects.
I know that borrowing money has its place in big projects, but I disagree in borrowing money for vehicles, computers, etc. These are small ticket items that we have to buy each year so continued borrowing will mount up.
In addition, the council voted against borrowing money to pay for the terminal a couple of months ago since we had the cash. The mayor’s budget disregards this council directive and looks to borrow to build it. The city attorney was asked about this, as city ordinance says that if a topic has been voted on and disapproved, then it takes 3/4 of the council to revisit the topic within a 12 month period. That has not been done.
The city attorney will review this. If it found that the mayor’s proposed action to borrow money for this project is not in accordance with city directives, then $1 million will have to be put back in the CPRD to fund it. That would likely entail more needed cuts in the proposed budget….which are needed.
I proposed a number of budget cuts. I won a few and lost a few. I believed we could have cut close to $2 million. Are these cuts easy or were the result of “fluff” that the mayor and department heads put in? The answer is a solid “no”. However, when the mayor herself says she using over $5 million in one-time money and calling it revenue, then I have concerns and we need to trim.
I’ll send out more details later.