Council tables budget vote resolution due to missing line items

The restoration of two city police department positions were missing from a list of budget changes given to common council members just before Tuesday’s meeting. The list was compiled over the past several weeks at various budget committee meetings by Controller Matt Agresta and was intended to be an attachment to a resolution approving the council’s version of the budget. Alderman Jim Martuscello made a motion to table the resolution until the issue could be fixed. The motion passed 3-2, the vote being split along party lines.

At a committee meeting on April 18, council members unofficially agreed to restore cuts in the proposed budget made by Mayor Michael Villa to both the deputy police chief’s position, and a second dispatcher position. Villa said his intent was for the current deputy chief to take a lower paying, and currently vacant, lieutenant’s position. The council, along with Police Chief Greg Culick, agreed to cut the lieutenant’s position and several other lines in order to restore the two positions without having to raise the overall tax levy.

Although the list presented to council members on Tuesday contained the some of the reductions agreed on at the previous meeting, including cuts to the police department’s gasoline budget, road striping budget and several others, the transfer of funds back to the deputy chief and dispatcher position were missing, along with the transfer of funds out of the lieutenant’s position.

Neither Villa or Agresta were present at the meeting. Reached for comment after the meeting, Agresta, who plans to take vacation time off this week, took the blame for mistakenly not including the three changes.

“I screwed up,” he said, “I take full responsibility.”

He added that the omissions were not intentional.

At the meeting, the council voted to table the resolution and planned to vote on it at a special meeting scheduled for next Tuesday.

Rather than amending the resolution during the meeting, Martuscello said he wanted to go over the list with Agresta when he came back from vacation.

“I want to make sure with the controller that everything’s on that list,” said Martuscello.

Alderman Chad Majewski also supported tabling the resolution in order to have more time to review the list.

“This is the first that I saw the list. This was only on our table today as I came in,” he said.

When asked why he voted against tabling the resolution, Alderman Ed Russo responded, “I didn’t want to table it, I wanted to vote on it tonight.”

However, Russo also said, “It’s not right, that sheet is not right, we needed more time.”

Asked whether he still supported the re-in-statement of the deputy chief position, Russo replied, “No comment right now. There’s a couple things I’m not happy with.”

Alderman Paul Ochal, who also voted against waiting on the resolution, also declined to comment on his stance on the deputy chief’s position.

However, when asked if by voting no to table the resolution, if that meant he wanted to vote on the resolution as as it was written, Ochal replied “yeah.”

The common council is required by the city charter to submit their budget revisions by official resolution before June 1. After that, the mayor may issue line-item vetoes to any change. The vetoes can be overridden with a four-fifths majority vote by the council.

Tim Becker

Tim Becker is the owner of Anthem Websites Inc. which publishes The Compass. He serves as both editor and a writer.