Monday, January 5, 2015

Budget fight in Columbia about more than a police car

From an editorial in this morning's edition of lancasteronline:
Mayor Leo Lutz gave two reasons for vetoing Columbia Borough's hold-the-line budget for 2015: a budget process he saw as not including the public in discussions and council's failure to include the lease of a new police cruiser.  Borough Council has scheduled a special meeting for 7 p.m. Wednesday at the borough building, 308 Locust St., to discuss overriding the mayor's veto.  The votes of five of the council's seven members are required to override a veto.

The mayor said he couldn’t recall any public budget meetings over the last few months at which all council members were in attendance, yet “the proposed budget was changed three times.”

To be fair, the mayor was not present at all council meetings, either. But, to his point, council did not, as it has in the past, make a point-by-point presentation of its budget prior to the Dec. 8 meeting at which it voted to advertise the budget and schedule it for a vote.

That effectively reduced, from two to one, opportunities for the public to learn about the budget.

Transparency is about more than holding votes in public. It’s also about airing matters of public importance fully and publicly.

Of all the public matters a governing body addresses, its spending plan for the year is among the most important.

It sets priorities for use of taxpayer money, and it ought to be done with full consideration, in full public view and with adequate notice to the public for residents to get a chance to understand it and make their voices heard.

Two full hearings should have been held on the 2015 budget.


Anonymous said...

Why did the mayor wait so long to say he feels the public did not have enough to say in public discussions during the meetings?

Joe Lintner said...

I wonder about that, too.

Anonymous said...

how about because he don't have a clue.

Anonymous said...

Most of the "public" are engrossed in their own day to day struggles and blindly trust council to make good decisions. If it were possible to fill the room and put the heat on, I wonder how comfortable the mayor would feel about public discussion/opinion. The mayor is well aware that very few residents attend meetings so that carries NO weight. It IS about the car.

Anonymous said...

Right, if the public were included in discussions, very few residents would show up for the meeting and Leo would argue with them. After all he knows best,

Joe Lintner said...

The mayor is first and foremost a politician, and I don't mean that as a compliment.

Joe Lintner said...

You're right. Why the sudden interest in inviting the public? I can't accuse the mayor of lack of transparency. His motives are totally transparent.