Mayor: Budget shows surplus

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, December 22, 2004

Selma’s Mayor took the time to set the record straight at the start of Tuesday’s marathon City Council meeting discussing budget cut proposals.

Referring to Sunday’s article in the Selma Times-Journal, Perkins referred to some numbers that were misinterpreted from the budget proposal he gave the Council last Monday.

In the proposal, draft #3 of the Total Budget Summary listed a budget shortfall, and it was reported that shortfall came after the latest proposed budget cuts. Instead, Perkins said the Total Budget Summary was in fact; the starting point and the proposed cuts had not been factored into the report.

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“If the council approves all of these proposals, the estimated budget that would be presented to the council would be a little over $300,000 surplus cash.”

According to a Cost Benefit Analysis Projects sheet, the total cuts proposed by the mayor and his staff means $522,173.13 in cuts against that $231,000 in leftover shortage.

Perkins went on to point out that had the cuts been implemented at the start of the fiscal year, they would be even more substantial.

“If we had implemented these at the beginning of the fiscal year, this would represent $1 million being cut out of the budget,” he said.

Perkins laid out his plans, in which several local agencies received cuts this year, however many of those cuts won’t take place until April to give the agencies a little time to prepare for the cuts.

“There’s a reason for having these dates far out,” he said. “I’m trying to give the agencies two-to-three months to prepare.

We’ve done the best we can.”

Perkins and Councilman Reid Cain went back and forth on the differences between the Total Budget Summary and the Cost Benefit Analysis.

At times, it seemed the two men were speaking different languages and the exchange got dramatic late in the nearly five hour meeting.

“I really tried to explain that but there is some mental block related to this issue,” the mayor said.

Cain asked if in the next budget presented to council members on Jan. 4th before the Jan. 10th meeting, if the cuts would be included in the budget summary because the summary sheet and the budget proposal didn’t balance out.

Perkins explained that they weren’t supposed to balance out, that the summary sheet was merely to note where the work had started.

“It does balance. What he’s trying to do is balance this to something that’s not supposed to balance,” Perkins said. “It’s these implicating statements.

You want to get me rattled up then you make offensive statements about my staff that have been working tirelessly to get these done. I will speak up for them, I will do that.”

Perkins further criticized Cain for bringing up an ordinance that would make it a misdemeanor if the mayor presented and city council passed a budget that does not meet the state required 10 percent budget cushion but not participating in the mayor’s budget process initiatives, including a questionnaire that asked council members to mark the budget cuts they could live with.

Both Cain and councilman Cecil Williamson refused to participate in that part of the process, saying it is the mayor’s job alone to prepare the budget.

Cain, who stayed calm throughout the mayor’s oratory, explained his position.

“We were given a draft at the last council meeting, all this information was not placed on the summary, therefore it does not balance,” Cain said.

“You don’t have to tell us how to do our job,” said Perkins, who also said earlier that the information Cain was requesting would be in the next report. “What I need from you is whether you support this process.

What I need from you is what you agree to cut and what you don’t agree to cut.”