Thursday, June 18, 2020

How members voted on the budget (with commentary)

by Rod Williams - On Tuesday night the Council voted on the budget. The Mendes substitute as amended, which increased property taxes by 34%, passed the Council Tuesday night and became the city's 2021 Metro budget.  The mayor had presented to the Council a budget that raised taxes 32%. Here is how members voted.

Yes: Bob Mendes, Sharon Hurt, Burkley Allen, Zulfat Suara, Kyonzt√© Toombs, Jennifer Gamble, Sean Parker, Brett Withers, Emily Benedict, Nancy VanReece, Tonya Hancock, Zach Young, Emily Evans, Brad Bradford, Jeff Syracuse, Ginny Welsch, Colby Sledge, Tom Cash, Freddie O’Connell, Mary Carolyn Roberts, Brandon Taylor, Gloria Hauser, Kathleen Murphy, Robert Nash, Tanaka Vercher, Delishia Porterfield, Sandra Sepulveda, John Rutherford, Joy Styles, Antoinette Lee, Angie Henderson.

No: Steve Glover, Jonathan Hall, Robert Swope, Larry Hagar, Kevin Rhoten, Thom Druffle, Russ Pulley, Courtney Johnston.

I am proud of those who voted "no." Almost everyone voted how I would have predicted they would have voted, except one of the no's I would not have predicted he would have been a "no." 

Two of the "yes" votes are disappointments.  I would have predicted Robert Nash and Angie Henderson would have been "no's."  If either of those two council members would like to explain their reason for voting the way they did, I would be glad to post their explanation. There may very well be a logical defensible reason for voting the way they did. I doubt it would persuade me they voted the right way but there may be a rational reason. Budgets are complicated. The Mendes substitute as amended may have had some changes that in the mind of the Coucil members who voted for it, was worth accepting a two percent higher tax.

I would have voted "no" if I had a vote.  However, if the "no's"would have won or if by a combination the no's and abstentions, the Mendes budget would have failed, the mayors budget would have become the budget by default.  As a practical matter, this was a vote for a 34% tax increase (the Mendes budget) or a 32% increase (the Mayor's budget).  This is what the Charter says:

Section 6.06: 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.
The mayor's budget would have not become the budget until July 1, however, so if the Mendez budget would have failed there may have been time (probably not, but maybe) for the Council to scramble and develop an another alternative, but a no-tax budget never had a chance. One cannot say with absolute certainty that if the Mendes budget would have failed the Mayor's budget would have become the budget by default, but that is the most likely outcome.

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