City Council Squares Off Over Sales 2010 Tax BudgetJanuary 6th, 2010 by Joe Burgess
The Monticello City Council met Tuesday night to approve the final sales tax budget for 2010, and a heated discussion soon followed. The budget had been tentatively approved by the same group before Christmas, when the Chamber of Commerce, MEDC, and Boys & Girls Club presented their operating budget requests.
Tuesday’s comments began with Claudia Hartness-White’s motion to move another $100,000 into the “war chest” (to be used for economic development, in case negotiations are taking place with a tentative employer. Alderman Tim Chase has been the most supportive member of a strong ”war chest” in the past.), and another $100,000 into the street fund. Hartness-White wanted to move the money out of the City Hall fund (a “set aside for the future” fund, such as has been used for expensive trash trucks, fire trucks, and the future fire department).
Alderman Beverly Hudson asked Hartness-White if there were many streets that needed to be paved, that didn’t get on the list to be paved this year. Hartness-White said that she would have to go back through her files to find out.
Mayor Joe Rogers asked for input from maintenance superintendent L. M. Wood and city engineer Tony Beard.
She added “I’m totally opposed to building a new city hall, I think we need to renovate this one”, and pointed out streets in Spring Branch and the Tanglewood areas that need repair. When council member Al Peer pointed out that the street superintendent and city engineer oversee the streets, Hartness-White responded, “I don’t care what they say; they’re unsightly;” then told Peer, “your streets, you’ve had some good paving over there.”
Peer responded to her, “you don’t care that they say but I do. I respect their opinion.”
Hartness-White told Peer that she wanted him to drive through Spring Branch and Tanglewood I & II. Peer answered, “That’s in you ward,” which received a “yes”, followed by Peer asking here, “How long have you been on the council?”, ”How long have you been doing street overlay?”, and “Why haven’t you taken care of that?”
Hartness-White answered, “We’ve served the worst streets first,” followed by Peer’s agreement, “Exactly.”
She told the group that her main objection was that there hadn’t been enough discussion about a city hall, and where it would be located.
Her motion was seconded by Tim Chase, but only received those two votes.
Council member Sherrie Gillespie then made a motion that the city move the $100,000 into the “war chest”, leave the other $100,000 in the city hall fund, and approve the budget. Tim Chase seconded that motion, and it passed with all in favor, except for Hartness-White’s “no” vote.
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