Ironton City Council passes budget

Published 9:56 am Tuesday, March 29, 2011

The Ironton City Council voted unanimously to pass the city’s $5.2 million general fund budget.

During a special meeting Monday evening the council vote to suspend the regular meeting rules and give the budget ordinance second and third reading before voting on it.

Council heard the first reading of the budget ordinance during the regular meeting Thursday. The city has a deadline of March 31 to adopt a budget. After a 3-3 vote Thursday, council did not suspend the rules and vote on the document. Monday’s special meeting was called so council could give the ordinance second reading. Another would also have been called for Tuesday evening to hear the third reading and vote, had the council not passed it Monday.

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At Thursday’s meeting, Councilwoman Beth Rist and Councilmen Dave Frazer and Bob Cleary voted against voting on the budget. Rist and Frazer told council they wanted to look into the budget more before voting on it.

Rist told council Monday that she spoke with Finance Director Kristen Martin about her concerns.

“I did receive phone calls afterwards,” Martin told council.

Cleary told council he would vote in support of passing the budget, though he does not agree with all of it.

“I think right now is too late into the game to even discuss or try to discuss or try to change anything,” Cleary said. “Once it’s presented, it has first reading and we’re out of time so it is something that I intend to discuss at a future time probably in the form of ordinances to change the parts that I don’t like.”

Frazer, too, plans to address some parts of the budget by proposing ordinances, he said after the meeting.

Martin responded to Cleary by saying there have been several meetings to discuss the budget.

“I don’t want to make it seem like we just tried to push it through at the last minute because we did have extensive conversations in the finance committee meetings about especially covering the deficit…” Martin said during the meeting. “I would encourage everyone to come to the finance committee meetings where we do have extensive conversations to understand and give input for the line items that you don’t feel like you agree with from what I presented.”

Councilman Chuck O’Leary told council he had felt as if he had enough time to ask his questions about the budget. He said Thursday’s vote was ridiculous and that it could have affected city employees’ livelihood.

“To mess with you guys at that late a date I thought was just inexcusable,” O’Leary, causing applause from city employees and others who attended the meeting.

Mayor Rich Blankenship expressed relief that the budget had passed.

“It’s what should have been done Thursday night,” he said after the meeting.

Martin said after the meeting that since Thursday’s meeting she had received some direct questions from council members about the budget.

“I was happy to know that they truly had questions that I could answer and I could address and I could help them to understand the budget,” Martin said.

She added that it was frustrating to be three months into budget planning and to have a deadline approaching and then hear about the questions. “But that doesn’t mean that I still can’t answer questions, it just means that now you’re interfering with deadlines that I have to the state and the auditor’s (office).”

Martin added that the budget is a “living” document that can be amended in the future.