I have all the respect in the world for Muir Boda, and once I read the letter he had published in the Daily Times yesterday I decided to reprint it here as well.
As a citizen of the City of Salisbury and one who has been actively involved in city politics for the past couple of years, I have grave concerns over the process with which the City Council handled the budget process this year. I do feel some good things came out of the budget, such as removing furlough days for Police Officers and reducing the number of furlough days for the remaining city employees.
My concern is solely on the process and what appears to be a lack of negotiation and communication between the Office of the Mayor and the City Council. I have an even greater concern with the fact that the Council did not schedule a work session between the public hearing and the vote on the budget that included their amendments. Many ideas and suggestions were brought forth in the hearing and should have been discussed and considered before final passage.
I am also concerned that the Council was so quick to schedule an emergency session to override the Mayor’s veto. This was not an emergency; June 30th would have been considered an emergency, not June 8th. There still would have been plenty of time to for the Council to reach out to the Mayor to work on getting the budget to where all could have agreed.
This is very disappointing and their actions as a council are in contrast to what some on the council campaigned against and have complained about concerning past councils.
Reaction to the letter in the Daily Times comment section has been limited but seems to consist of bashing his supposed alliance with SAPOA and praise for Laura Mitchell. It doesn’t address the letter itself, so I took these (anonymous) people to task:
Whether Muir Boda would have voted for or against the budget is irrelevant to the conversation. He is correct that the city’s budget process was acrimonious and didn’t need to be done in such haste – that was his point.
I happen to think more people should have voted for Muir Boda as I did, but we are stuck with the Council we have because the people spoke back in April based on campaign promises of sweetness and light among the Council if the Camden crew were elected. Well, looks like too many of us were fooled again.
Now I don’t expect the mayor and council of any community to get along 100 percent of the time; in fact, a little bit of tension and rivalry can be a good thing. And Lord knows I’m certainly no Jim Ireton cheerleader but the depths we’ve descended to in this town are ridiculous. Where Muir’s argument is strongest is where he contends there was no big hurry – although Mayor Ireton was quick to slap his veto on the budget as presented by Council, there still was plenty of time for the two sides to discuss a compromise before the override.
However, Muir is somewhat incorrect on one key point: to not have a budget by June 30th would have against the City Charter, which stipulates the budget must be passed by June 15th (SC7-21 here.) Otherwise, the mayor’s budget would have been the one in force. Still, there was some time to work things out but both sides instead made a public show of rejecting the other’s budgetary guidance.
On another subject, I’m sort of curious what led Laura Mitchell to override the veto. (Guess I could e-mail her and ask, or she may enlighten us with a comment here.) Considering that there were three votes in pocket coming from the Camden mob, hers was the swing vote between the mayor’s budget and Council’s proposal. On the other hand, Shanie Shields is definitely the odd person out in this edition of Council and it will be interesting to see how that District 1 race shakes out in 2013 since she won’t run again.
All in all, Boda is correct in pointing out this is another black eye in Salisbury politics. Between the veto override and his favorite watering hole closing, last week was a bad one for Mayor Ireton. While one can always find a new hangout, the budget setback makes me wonder whether he will have the desire for another term in 2013 himself?