View from the Cheap Seats: The Christmas Budget

Christmas is coming and here at the homestead that means we’re talking about the Christmas Budget. “Christmas Budget?” you say. Yep – that’s an agreement the wife and I have on how much we’re each going to spend on Christmas gifts. We talk about how much we can spend and do our best to stick to the limits. She wants Le Creuset cookware and I want a Jaguar – that’s fair isn’t it? I thought so.

So anyway, we agree on how much we can spend. She may have to pass on the GPS system on the Jag, and we can’t afford a whole set of cookware, so we both acknowledge that we don’t have an unlimited amount of money to spend on Christmas gifts.

Not so at the city. Our city government doesn’t think it’s important to plan their spending of OUR money and Mayor Debbie Sutherland is ignoring the rules again (big surprise, huh?). You see, Section 9.1 of the Bay Village Charter requires that the mayor submit a budget to council 45 days before the end of the fiscal year. So on the 17th of November, the Charter required that she submit a budget. Did she make it? Nope. No budget, and this is a trend.

The Sutherland administration hasn’t submitted a budget to council on time. Ever. This is a problem on two levels. First, it doesn’t allow the Finance Committee or the Council to evaluate the budget before the money starts flying out, which is what she wants because she can’t stand scrutiny. Secondly, it demonstrates that this administration ignores the rules, no matter if those rules are in ordinances or in the charter.

Sutherland feels like she makes the rules. She’s above it all. It’s like her statement in the WestLife Bay Village Chatter section on December 2nd: “[she has]…now moved on to taking care of business in Bay Village.” How can she say she’s taking care of business when she misses something as significant as the budget – year after year?

The budget was due on the 17th of November and no budget was presented. Last year her budget showed expenditures of $500,000 more than revenues, and this year (and I’m speculating here) she wants to do that again, except this time it’ll probably be worse, because tax revenues are down.

Now, I don’t have any dreaming idea that the mayor should be sitting at her desk during the election working on a spreadsheet of expenses for 2010 (she’s rarely at her desk anyway), but Steve Presley, her Finance Director, should have been doing exactly that. Apparently not. And where’s Brian Cruse? He’s President of Council and should have been clamoring for the budget, but nooooo. To win reelection after nine years by 69 votes means that, for Sutherland, reelection next time isn’t an option. That would mean Cruse is the heir apparent. He doesn’t need to be making waves, or it could screw up his chances for the “Hizhonor chair.”

So it’s apparent the city is going to start spending OUR money in 2010 before they have a plan for that spending. Ready…fire…aim! Are you comfortable with that? I thought not. And the wife’s not really comfortable with the Jag either. Oh well. And I had the leather seats all picked out, too.

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Volume 1, Issue 8, Posted 6:14 PM, 12.04.2009