The final city budget vote whizzed by so quickly Your Gilbert almost missed it. We were busy poking ourselves with sharp pins to keep ourselves awake during yet another set of citizen committee interviews when we heard the words “. . . budget tax rate passes.”
The Takoma Park city council reduced the tax rate by a half cent (not the two cent reduction advocated by council freshman Dan Robinson). For every $100 of assessed value of their homes, resident homeowners will pay sixty and a half cents.
Complaints about the budget process were voiced the previous week by many of the council members. Councilmember Robinson said he had been taken aback when in the course of public meetings with department heads there was no review of their budgets. As Your Ace Reporter Gilbert reported at the time “The budget discussion has largely consisted of department heads being interviewed by the council. These are similar to citizen committee interviews . . . .
In both cases the interviewee tells the council how much they want to serve the city, and the council tells the interviewee how much they appreciate their committee/department.”
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He was not the only one with a raised eyebrow. Other councilmembers, notably Terry Seamens, also thought there was precious little review in the review. They vowed to change the process next budget eason.
Dear Readers with long memories will recall last year’s budget process under our previous mayor Kathy Porter. Those readers are recalling with a spooky sense of deja-vu the similar council complaints and vows to reform the process then.
We are wondering, Dear Readers, that since Takoma Park has a professional city manager whether the council really gets much say in the matter.
In a city manager-style of government part of the city manager’s job description is to devise the budget. The point of this is to take that job out of the hands of the elected officials who may want to use the budget as a partisan tool. It also supposedly put the job in the hands of an expert who would have the best interests of the city residents (and their pocketbooks) in mind. That was the idea during the Progressive Era when the city-manager model was invented.
As you can see in last weeks guest blog by Alain Thery, some citizens (and perhaps a councilmember or two) suspect city managers are more interested in maintaining and growing the city bureaucracy than guarding the public pocketbook.
What do you think, Dear Reader?