Yesterday the City Commission held a special budget meeting regarding fiscal year 2019. One Commissioner walked out in protest because he says Commissioners agreed to cut expenditures by 5-10 percent, but the city decided on an increase of around 12 percent instead.
Todd Neville said the meeting was a "non-start" from the beginning. "On April 19th, I made a specific request that we reduce expenditures 5-10 percent. That's right in the minutes," said Neville to his fellow Commissioners. "It was the consensus of the commission to begin the budget process as suggested. We talked about four things... Non-performers, under-performers, redundant processes and inefficiencies."
62% of the operational budget is staff, and Neville says Regan's staff did not even look at the evaluation of city staff, in order to reduce under performers and save the city money.
Neville continued, "We didn't start with the baseline that we asked in April, so either we shouldn't have had the meeting in April, or we need to come back with what we asked for. So I'm not really ready to start looking at details when, to begin the budget process as suggested, we're just not there."
Mayor Shaver said that she agreed with Neville in principle. "I believe that what we have here is an increase in revenue and that we have not addressed it appropriately according to what we asked," said Shaver. However she did suggest that they should continue with the meeting, give input, and then come back with more talks.
Neville responded, "Mayor, I think that is putting the burden on us, when we have asked staff to do something specifically, and explicitly... We set the baseline at 5-10 percent. That's not where we're at today."
Staff's response was that they did not interpret statements such as cuts in "under-performers" to be staff cuts.
Did they think the Commission was talking about under performing desk chairs, staplers, or doorknobs?
Leanna Freeman, who rarely appears to utilize the slightest bit of common sense, said she disagreed with Shaver and Neville's assessment (of course she did) and that Commissioners should, once again, go forward with flawed information.
"Maybe it's not being presented in a way that aligns with what your one request was..."(Actually it was a documented consensus 5-0) she then continued with literal nonsense rambling that isn't even legibly quotable.
I spoke with Commissioner Neville about the incident, and he told me, "I'm not some Grover Norquist type of guy who wants to slash the budget every single year by 20 percent, but I felt it was time to cut back a bit on non-essential spending, and my fellow commissioners agreed. At least prior to this meeting."
Below is a cut of the April 19th meeting where this was indeed the case.