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Our Opinion: Council members in the dark on restoration of funding

Our elected City Council members, who must defend allocations, at least should be made aware of allocations.

Full funding for a city activity, the Salute to America, recently was restored, after the council voted in open session to cut the allocation in half.

What is distressing is not that the funding was restored — staff is authorized to reallocate money — but that the action was taken without the knowledge of a number of council members, including the finance chairman.

The city announced earlier this year that it would suffer a $1.68 million budget shortfall, which raised public questions about who’s minding the store.

To close the budget gap, the council approved a number of cuts, including reducing funding for the Independence Day celebration, to $5,000— half of the full $10,000 allocation.

A News Tribune reporter exploring the effect of budget cuts learned funding for Salute to America had been restored.

The restoration of full funding was accomplished by reallocating $5,000 from the city’s special events fund. The action was taken without the knowledge of a number of council members.

Our concern here is not whether the event merits full funding, our concern is the restored funding not only was veiled from the public, it was veiled from a number of council members.

“News to me,” 2nd Ward Councilman and Finance Committee Chairman Shawn Schulte told the News Tribune. “I was not aware of that.”

Added 5th Ward Councilman Ralph Bray: “That must have been done outside of the council then. I was not aware of that.”

Bray’s 5th Ward peer, Larry Henry, said he was aware of the effort to restore full funding, but acknowledged: “Was it gone about the right way? It probably could have been done better.”

Mayor Eric Struemph, who also is chairman of the Salute to America Foundation, is “glad” about the result, but he should be alarmed about the process.

The action leaves in the dark a number of council members who must answer to their constituents about allocations of tax dollars.

Elected city officials recently endured a public pummeling linked to the budget shortfall.

Now we learn tax dollars are being reshuffled, unbeknownst to the public and a number of their elected representatives.

We would not be surprised if some of the people elected to mind the store were incensed at being shut out.


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