April 12, 2005
The Charlottesville City Council met on Tuesday, April 12 with hopes of passing their over a $100M budget.
They did just that, but not without a fight. The $106M budget did pass. However, one legislator added his two cents by voting no.
"We may want to give $5,000 to this organization, and sooner or later we've added up to $100,000, or $500,000 that could have been spent elsewhere. Until we're able to prioritize our spending, I have to ask, 'Is it worthy of my support?', and at this time it isn't," said City Councilor Rob Schilling.
Councilor Schilling's support for the budget was not there, due to what he calls, many procedural problems in its process. One problem in particular deals with the police department.
"Looking at some of the requests of the police department, even though they had a substantial increase in the departmental budget, they've been ignored for many years," Schilling added.
Still, the city's budget passed 4:1.
Councilor Schilling along with the city's other council members met in a smaller, more intimate environment than the regular council chambers where the heated debate started right away.
Several members of council, seated around a table stacked with documents outlining the nuts and bolts of the budget, gave comments about the budgeting process. Though it seemed like it was a long drawn out mission, it worked out just fine.
Councilor Blake Caravati said, "This is a year-long process, and it's becoming rather imminent with ever department of the city. The longer you're here, the more imminent you understand it, and the more you can perfect it."
The $106M budget includes reductions ranging the elimination of 14 staff positions to cutting over $2M in spending. In addition to the budget, the city's legislators passed a four cent tax cut for home owners.
"It's been a very productive process. We've seen the largest decrease in the tax rate that we've had in city history," said Councilor Kevin Lynch.
With some members of the council, as well as the mayor, going through the process for the first time, the mayor is pleased with the outcome.
"There was a lot of material, a lot of work, and I thought it went well, and overwhelmingly. I think people were concerned about the rising cost of property tax. We reduced the tax rate four cents which I think is significant, and am pleased we were able to do that, " said David Brown, the Mayor of Charlottesville.