Fiscal Year 2015 City of Clarksville Budget
On May 29, 2014, the City of Clarksville fiscal year 2015 budget passed in the first voting session. Mayor McMillan had to cast the deciding vote to pass her budget. Councilman Burkhart and I were among the no votes.
The budget amendment to fund the potential purchase of land for the Urban Park failed in a 6-6 tie on the first vote. The Mayor voted against it, Council Burkhart abstained, and I voted for it.
Funding for another study concerning where to locate a new Roxy/Performing Arts Center was deleted from the budget. This study would have cost the taxpayers another $100,000. It was deleted with strong council support in a 9-yes/3-no vote. I sponsored this amendment. My rationale was that the Roxy already has the site it sits on, plus the city has offered the parking lot next door to the Roxy expansion for $100. The potential purchase of another site could drive up costs considerably and another study only adds costs and further delays in making the Roxy/Performing Arts Center a reality.
An amendment to delete a $100,000 study for environmental and technical land study of a proposed new park was supported in a 7-yes/5-no vote. I voted for the amendment. The study purportedly would look at two land parcels, one adjacent to Tiny Town Rd and the other outside the city limits at Exit 8. The Mayor has continually pushed Exit 8 as the better location. The initial study and many on the council (including myself) believe the Tiny Town parcel is the better site. The reason for the deletion was due to the Mayor not seeking the input of the council on this project and the listed budget item did not specify that each land parcel would actually be to be part of the study.
Second Voting Session
On June 5, 2014, as the City Council prepared for a second and final vote on the city’s General Fund budget, Mayor McMillan suddenly announced the need to delay the final vote indefinitely.
Mayor McMillan’s explanation was that an issue had arisen over a legal and scheduling issue with the upcoming certified property tax rate. This rate suddenly needed to be approved in conjunction with this budget and the Mayor stated that the new rate would not arrive for another week. What was odd about this was that Mayor McMillan and her staff stated several weeks earlier that a certified property tax rate may not be available until as late as mid-July…AND that the new certified tax rate was not a problem in our budget process since no tax increase was involved.
If the truth be known, the Mayor’s concocted issue to postpone the final vote was politically motivated because the Mayor lacked a vote she could usually count on.
The Mayor had not expected the absence of Councilwoman Guzman at the second budget vote. Her vote was necessary for the Mayor’s budget to pass the first time. Her absence on the final vote and on any proposed amendments could change the outcome of the Mayor’s budget. In addition, the Mayor needed to delay longer than another week because another key supporting vote was evidently going to be absent the following week. The Mayor saw the council reject her effort to openly manipulate the budget process.
The budget amendment to add funding for the potential purchase of land associated with a downtown urban park was reintroduced and approved in a 7-yes/3-no/1-abstain vote. Councilman Burkhart abstained, the Mayor did not vote, and I voted in favor of the amendment.
I reintroduced an amendment to fully fund the long promised Exit 1 Fire Station. This amendment failed in its first introduction by a 5-yes/8-no vote with the Mayor and Councilman Burkhart, who represents this area, voting no. The effort failed again in a closer second try with a 5-yes/6-no vote. Councilman Burkhart again voted no.
Councilman Allen reintroduced his effort to give a full 50-cent raise to the part-time minimum wage workers. The amendment would add 25-cents to the amount the Mayor had proposed in the first budget voting session. This time it passed in a 6-yes/5-no vote. I voted yes again. Councilman Burkhart voted no again. The Mayor did not vote.
Councilman Burkhart proposed an amendment to delete $350,000 for surveying and engineering work on a new section of Cardinal Lane off of Rossview Road. Burkhart was concerned there had not been talks with potentially affected landowners and he was not in favor of the project anyway. This project plus improvements to realign Dunbar Lane and adding lanes to part of Rossview Road will help the Rossview school complex area where traffic is often very congested. I spoke against the reduction. His amendment failed in 4-yes/7-no vote. I voted no.
The final full budget vote was 7-yes/5-no. Seven votes are needed to pass legislation on its second vote. Councilman Burkhart, who voted against the budget the first time, supported the Mayor’s budget this time, which allowed the required margin for passage. I voted no as I promised the people in the Exit 1 area that I would “go to the mat” to try and reinstate the Station 11 funding.