Budget Hearings tonight – 10/8/2009

2010 City Civil Budget

Tonight’s Budget Hearing session starts at 5:30 pm in the City Council Chambers in the City-County Building.

The departments up for discussion:

  • Mayor
  • Public Works, which includes:
    • Street Department
    • Street Project Management
    • Traffic Engineering
    • Fleet Management
    • Energy & Environment
  • Parks & Recreation
  • Metro Human Relations

The Mayor’s budget will probably prove to be the most interesting of the lot.  If you’ll remember, last year, the Council voted to cut one of the Public Information Officers and there was heated discussion over the value of the First Call to City Hall, 3-1-1 service.  The PIO cut was later reversed, but I would expect there to be questions about the need.

A couple of months after the 3-1-1 discussion, the now infamous ice storm of the end of December hit and helped to prove the value of the service to the community.  Some Council members have sat in the 3-1-1 call center with call takers to get an idea of what happens.  Some of the members I’ve talked with, while not completely convinced of the value, seem to have softened their stance toward the service.

The issue I’m expecting to see discussed this evening revolves around the funding of the service.  The staff is funded through the Mayor’s budget, while Phil GiaQuinta, City Utilities Supervisor, who is in charge of the 3-1-1 call center, is funded through the City Utilities – which is not supported with property tax revenue and therefore does not come under Council review.

The other related issue here, which may be discussed, are the Neighborhood Advocates and the need for them.

During the Parks & Recreation discussion, look for the Headwaters Park issue to surface.  The management agreement between the Headwaters Park Alliance and City will be reviewed with an eye towards possibly folding Headwaters Park into the City system.  The proposed funding from the City to the Alliance has been cut by $50,000.  I’d look for some comments from Councilman John Shoaff in particular.  It may also be interesting to see if other Council members chime in with their positions on the issue.

The Metro Human Relations budget is last up.  Last year, there were some problems with Metro getting information it needed from the City Controller’s office so that it could justify it’s spending of Federal funds.  We’ve heard nothing about the situation, so it will be interesting to see if the situation has been cleared up, or still there.  Also, remember that of all the departments that appeared before the Council, Metro was the only department that made a return visit to submit requested cuts to their budget.  Part of this had to do with the touchiness of the funds involved.  Federal regulations stipulate how the money can be spent, so any cuts had to be weighed against those stipulations.  Metro felt it was easier to come back with their proposal and in fact, were very amenable to the idea of cuts to begin with.

As usual, as long as the battery power holds out, I’ll be blogging live.

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