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BE budget delays raising questions

By Staff | Mar 24, 2008

Glen Gaylor & Dan Brod “As councilmembers I think we should and need to know what’s going on.” — Glenn Gaylord BE councilmember

Although the delay is due to some unusual circumstances occurring last October, some on the Blue Earth city council are wondering: where’s the budget.

In the past months, City Administrator Ben Martig has provided the council with bits and pieces of the city’s 2008 budget.

Monday night was no different.

Handouts showed that city employees are in line for a 3 percent pay hike when the final budget is approved. And, sewer service rates also will be going up 3 percent. Proposed expenses and revenues for the wastewater treatment plant and debt service fund 314 also were presented.

But, a detailed and complete budget has yet to be produced so councilmembers can act on it.

Councilmen Dan Brod and Glenn Gaylord have made repeated requests of Martig that he complete the financial report.

“I don’t understand why we don’t have it. I would just like to have the budget,” says Brod.

For Gaylord, having the new budget in hand is a way to compare the city’s financial picture to last year.

“As councilmembers I think we should and need to know what’s going on,” says Gaylord.

Last December, the council approved a tax levy hike of 17.77 percent, or an additional $192,497 for the city. Of that amount, $160,000 has been earmarked for street improvements while the remainder will be used for operation of the city.

At that time, a summary of the 2008 budget also was approved. “By the first of the year we have usually approved the budget,” Gaylord says.

Both councilmembers say they understand why the final document has been delayed.

Martig’s workload increased when the city lost its economic development director and a fire at Kerry destroyed the company’s warehouse in October.

Gaylord and Brod don’t have any doubts that Martig is working hard and doing his best.

“He (Martig) has too much on his plate right now. I think we might have to hire someone to help him,” adds Gaylord.

Unlike his fellow councilors, Councilman Dick Maher doesn’t think it’s “a big issue” and he’s confident Martig will get complete work on the budget soon.

“You’d like to get things done immediately, but that’s not the way government works,” adds Maher.

Despite the extra duties, Gaylord hopes they won’t have to wait much longer.

“It would be nice to get a budget before the year is over,” he says. “The bottom line is we have to OK the full budget. The council is held accountable.”

Adds Brod, “It’s a guideline that shows where we are at with spending in each department.”