Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Budget and Finance Committee meeting of April 6th. $15millon out of 4% deferred one meeting.

This is the meeting of the Budget and Finance Committee meeting of April 6th.  The Budget and Finance Committee is the most important committee of the Council. If any real probing of proposed spending occurs it occurs in this committee. If anyone wants a real understanding of Metro's finances and spending decisions, I urge them to watch B&F committee meetings. In addition to learning about Metro's spending, you can see which Council members are thinking and asking the hard questions. Really, the Budget and Finance committee meeting are a lot more interesting than most council meetings.

A lot of questions are asked about the short-term financing of sewer improvements.

On  RESOLUTION NO. RS2015-1419  there are some good questions about the $15 million request for money from the 4% fund. There especially are a lot of questions about Farmer's Market.  In the discussion it is revealed that the Farmers Market has actually been spending money it does not have and the request from the 4% fund would cover that loss. If the council does not approve it, then at the end of the year, their audit would show a loss. It the Council does not cover this deficit out of 4% money then it would have to be covered out of the cities reserve but one way or the other it would have to be paid.

In addition to pushing the flea market vendors of the farmers market, it appears the city has forced a lot of farmers out.  I assume this is a result of the policy that prohibits farmers from being retailers and restricting the farmers to selling local or regional produce they grew themselves. As an example, up until now a farmer could sell his produce but also sell some banana's or pineapples or other produce that he did not grow himself. Now that has changed and those vendors who were retailing produce they did not grow are being forced to leave the market. The pushing out of some farmers and the pushing out of the flea market vendors has resulted in a lot of angry people calling councilmen, and it is obvious some of the council members are mad at Farmers Market management.  Also, apparently the Farmers Market did not handle this change in policy with the best diplomacy. Jacobia Dowell made a motion to take the money for the Farmers Market out of the bill, but after more discussion the committee recommended to just deferred the whole resolution one meeting. The Committee was running out of time and had not even gotten to some of the other departments requesting money.

On  BILL NO. BL2015-1056 which would take a portion of the Hotel-Motel tax to fund The Barnes Fund, some good questions are asked but the bill gets a positive committee recommendation with no dissenting votes. Steve Cover and Tim Garrett asked questions that indicated they did not think this was a wise thing to do, but then they did not vote against it.

I find it frustrating when someone seems to "get it;" you know they are thinking right, but then they won't cast a "no" vote. I am not speaking of this instance only but I observe that all the time. Everything does not have to be unanimous. Voting alone or in the minority won't be embarrassing or painful. I do not know why we do not have more divided votes in committee or the Council. If 40 people are always going to agree, then we don't need 40 people. You would think out of large diverse body their would occasionally be a dissenting voice.

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