Mayor, Witts Butt Heads on Budget Adoption
Days after its adoption, Mayor Kelly Kautz and Mayor Pro Tem Tom Witts still seek harmony and clarity on the 2013 budget.
Snellville leaders are still trying to agree on what they did and didn't do regarding the adoption of the 2013 budget.
And, following a report on Patch on June 30 about the $9.6 million budget's adoption, both Mayor Kelly Kautz and Mayor Pro Tem Tom Witts reached out to clarify their positions.
In an email statement from the mayor on June 30, Kautz said some of the figures released by Witts to the media on Friday and included in his budget were inaccurate. She noted the lack of the LCI project and no overtime pay for police officers as just two of those problems. (See the mayor's proposed budget attached.)
"Mayor Pro Tem Witts’ budget has a surplus because he is trying to hide expenditures from the public which he knows the city will have to pay," Kautz wrote. "That was the issue of disagreement and why the comptroller stated that the budget was not in compliance."
According to a document sent to Snellville Patch from the city's comptroller there are some discrepancies between the mayor's proposed budget and Witts' proposed budget, including a $5,000 line-item omission of overtime police pay.
However, there is also an additional $16,500 in Witts' version for police patrols at city tourism events. (See Witts' budget attached.)
Witts said there were minor differences between his budget and the mayor's version, but he balked at any notion that he was trying to play hide-and-go-seek with taxpayers' money. In fact, Witts asked for questions or concerns about his budget before presenting it to council, and said in an email to council that "he attempted to be as accurate as possible."
"The statement that I would hide expenditures from the taxpayers is ridiculous and offensive," he wrote over the weekend. "Trying to use new tax dollars to pay for a project that can be paid for out of existing funds sounds a little deceitful to me."
Witts is referring to the LCI project, the main cause for this latest contention, and for which he wants to use surplus money to pay for. That money would come from the recent service delivery agreement, he said.
Besides, the $430,000 cost associated with it is an estimate, and one that cannot be soldified until the city is further along in process, he added.
Still, if the city uses surplus funds to pay for this major project, Kautz said the city's savings account would be reduced to level not keeping with sound, fiscal policy -- one adopted by the council several years ago.
"When I mentioned the fiscal policy Friday during the meeting both Bobby (Howard) and Tom (Witts) stated that they had never seen any policy, and they doubted it actually existed."
On Monday, in another attempt to clear up the budget fracas, Witts compared the city of Snellville's budget adoption with that of Suwanee.
In Suwanee, city leaders treated its service delivery money as additional revenue to offset taxes elsewhere, thereby reducing its expentiures by $585,000, according to a report in the Gwinnett Daily Post.
"Their's passes unanimously, ours became a farce," he wrote. "What should have been celebrated has been turned into criticism from staff at a public meeting, being called deceitful by the mayor, and finally more bad press for the city rather than the positive press that Suwanee garnered."
What do you think about the budget's adoption? Let us know in the comment section.