Sunday, Nov. 12, 2006
Budget vote questioned
City’s attorney asked to review council’s action
on proposed FY 2007 budget
By Pearl Cantrell
Monitor Staff Writer
GUN BARREL CITY–Legal counsel is looking into whether last month’s vote to pass the budget was legal or not.
The only problem with that is the action to hire the city’s new legal counsel, Andy Messer of Frisco, may also have been a vote short of legal, according to the city charter.
Gun Barrel City’s charter, following the pattern set by Robert’s Rules of Order, requires a two-thirds majority vote of the full council to pass a city budget, or to hire an attorney to represent it.
This is sometimes referred to as a super majority.
At question is whether the council seat recently vacated by James Jacobs still counts as part of the full five-member council, and whether the mayor is allowed to break a 2-2 tie when it comes to the budget and choosing an attorney.
A two-thirds vote of a five-member council means four votes. A two-thirds majority of four members would be three.
The charter says the mayor can break a tie, but if you include the mayor as one of the people voting, then the number of the council goes back to five – which is still a vote short, because two-thirds of five is still four.
To be on the safe side, the city has been operating from last year’s budget, last month’s 3-2 approval of the fiscal year 2007 budget notwithstanding.
A memo to council members from city secretary Christy Eckerman reminded them that Jacob’s vacancy must be filled within 30 days of the acceptance of his resignation, by another two-thirds vote, excluding the mayor.
During the past few months, the council has been split 2-2 on most issues. Naming a replacement will require cooperation, Eckerman pointed out in her memo.
Calls to the city on how the city was faring under last year’s budget went unanswered by presstime Thursday.
Primarily, a written city budget allows citizens to know just how their money is being spent, councilwoman Kathy Cochran said.
The quandary over the budget may continue even after someone has been chosen to replace Jacobs, as long as two people vote against its adoption.
Filling Jacob’s seat tops the council’s Nov. 14 agenda.
To date, Cochran and Patsy Black have opposed adopting the FY 2007 budget, because they say the street department needs a boost.
They propose adding $175,000 for streets, which they say the city can afford.
Councilmen Marty Goss and Keith Crozier oppose the additional expenditure, because, they say, the streets can be maintained with a slightly smaller allocation than last year’s $981,412.
Goss and Crozier favor $948,094 for streets.
That would leave adequate funding available for the city to continue its research into adding a water and wastewater department.
Street superintendent Mike Horton reported at the Oct. 24 council meeting his department reconstructed 9.2 lane miles in FY 2006, and planned to do work on nearly 14 lane miles in the coming year.
It was noted streets have suffered badly during the last two years’ drought, with cracks and deterioration appearing on many roads. The rising cost of road material was also noted.
During a budget workshop, Horton also expressed the desire for another dump truck, estimated at $95,000.
However, Horton accepted the $948,094 allocation.
Goss maintains that if adding a water department is proven to be feasible, the city should move forward on it, so it can control its future development.
Helpful lake-area Santas
prepare to aid needy during holidays
Lions warn of tele-scammers
Monitor Photo/Pearl Cantrell