After three Ways and Means Committee meetings over two months, discussing the Brentwood 2013 budget, it was on the agenda for the board of aldermen Monday night.
Alderman Andy Leahy started the discussion, moving to amend the budget, switching out a 3 percent merit pay increase for city employees, for a 1 percent raise.
I want to “eliminate some costs and still maintain a balanced budget,” he said. He said the excess can go into the reserve fund or be used as needed.
When mayor Pat Kelly said the budget is balanced ($17,503,495 revenues, $17,058,991 expenditures) Leahy said he wanted to increase the revenue to expenditure differential even wider.
“In your scenario, you won’t have a balanced budget,” Kelly said. “You’ll have more revenue coming in than expenses.”
Leahy said, “I think that’s a good thing.”
At that point Kelly asked Leahy how many line item reductions he had. “About 21,” Leahy said, and alderman Anthony Harper said he had some too.
Kelly told Leahy to read the list and they could take them up at the next meeting.
Alderwoman Maureen Saunders said, “If we decide as a board to cut items they will go to the reserves, even if we may not vote tonight, there can still be some discussion on the items and find out where we stand.”
Alderman Lee Wynn said he didn’t want to go over everything at that meeting then have to do it all again at a second meeting.
When Kelly said they needed more information before voting, Harper said that wasn’t the original intent when the agenda was set.
“I don’t know what additional information we’re going to need,” Harper said. “I know I’ve reviewed the budget.”
When they renewed the discussion on Leahy’s motion, alderman Tom Kramer said there is almost a total of $350,000 planned to go into the reserve with the proposed budget as it stands.
He also said “the opportunity for workers to earn merit increases would be cut off at the knees if we just give them 1 percent when we’ve presented a budget that is balanced."
Saunders said Kramer referred to a planned $212,000 going into the city’s reserve fund as if that “means the reserves are better, indicating that it’s spendable.” She said area cities giving 2-3 percent raises, which Kramer compared Brentwood to, have much higher reserve funds than Brentwood’s.
She said Brentwood has always been generous to its employees, and now has to make a fiscally responsible decision.
"We don't have the reserves that we should, and that's from prior management decisions," Saunders said.
“You’ve said you never felt the reserves were enough, but you didn’t have the votes," she said to Kramer. "Now you’ve got a board that’s going to help you get there."
Leahy’s motion to reduce the merit pay increase from 3 to 1 percent failed, with Cindy Manaster, Toohey, Kramer, Robertson and Wynn voting no; and Saunders, Leahy and Harper voting yes.
The board broke for five minutes before going on to the rest of the items.
Update, per City Administrator Bola Akanke:
There was no motion to pass the budget last night. There was a continuation of questions asked by the Aldermen relating to the budget document. The budget is scheduled for second reading on December 3, 2012.