May 28, 2012
In her Sunday column, The Tennessean’s Gail Kerr all but declares the Metro property tax fight over, saying opponents “failed to do their homework” on General Hospital, the recipient of the largest subsidy targeted for extinction in a proposal drafted by the Beacon Center.
It’s true that opponents of Mayor Dean’s tax cuts have not had the time to do all the homework necessary to make an airtight case against all of the mayor’s spending plans – and it may well be a mistake to shut down General Hospital. Certainly, Kerr and her sources make a passionate case for the hospital providing the double benefit as a place to treat the poor, and a training ground for doctors.
I doubt the same defense can be mounted for most of the other items the Beacon Center recommended cutting, but I welcome efforts to try. But also let’s remember, since Dean wants to take even more of the people’s money, and there are real consequences to the people when he does, the burden of proof should be on spending, not on spending cuts. (read more)
I agree! I agree in principle that "since Dean wants to take even more of the people’s money, and there are real consequences to the people when he does, the burden of proof should be on spending, not on spending cuts." In practice however that is not the way it works. Maybe the burden of proof should be on spending but it is not. The Charter spells out how a budget is approved and passed.
Things are not added to the budget to get to a budget that then requires a tax increase. To avoid a tax increase, things must be taken out of the budget. We do not start with last years budget and add or subtract things. We do not have "zero-based budgeting." The Mayor presents a budget to the Council. If the council does nothing or simply votes "no" the Mayor's budget and required tax rate to fund the budget become law. As a practical matter, the hard work must be done by the cutters not the spenders in developing a city budget.
Here is what the charter says:
Sec. 6.04. - Review and revision of operating budget by mayor; submission to council; budget as public record; distribution of copies.
The mayor shall review the operating budget submitted to him by the director of finance, and may make any revisions in such budget as he may deem necessary or desirable, before it is submitted to the council for consideration.
Sec. 6.05. - Hearings by council.
After the council shall have passed the budget ordinance on first reading, it shall hold hearings on the proposed operating budget, as well as on the capital improvements budget as provided in section 6.13 hereof, but the hearing on the capital improvements budget shall be heard prior to those on the proposed operating budget, and the hearings on either budget may be adjourned from time to time. Budget hearings shall be advertised in a daily newspaper of general circulation published in the area of the metropolitan government at least seven days prior to the date or dates set for the beginning of such public hearings.
Sec. 6.06. - Action by council on operating budget.After the conclusion of the public hearings, the council may amend the operating budget proposed by the mayor; except, that the budget as finally amended and adopted must provide for all expenditures required by law or by other provisions of this Charter and for all debt service requirements for the ensuing fiscal year as certified by the director of finance. Neither shall the council alter the estimates of receipts or other fund availability included in the budget document except to correct errors and omissions, in which event a full explanation shall be spread on the minutes of the council. In no event shall the total appropriations from any fund exceed the estimated fund balance, reserves and revenues, constituting the fund availability of such fund.
The council shall finally adopt an operating budget for the ensuing fiscal year not later than the thirtieth day of June, and it shall be effective for the fiscal year beginning on the following July 1st. Such adoption shall take the form of an ordinance setting out the estimated revenues in detail by source and making appropriations according to fund and by organizational unit, purpose or activity as set out in the budget document. If the council shall fail to adopt a budget prior to the beginning of any fiscal year, it shall be conclusively presumed to have adopted the budget as submitted by the mayor.