Even for City Hall junkies, the budget process can be a bit overwhelming to follow closely. So when the council passed the city’s $2.7 billion budget last week, it’s unlikely much interest was generated -- other than relief that the council was able to make the necessary amendments to balance the budget without raising taxes more than what had been previously approved.
However, what should be of concern is exactly how those amendments were handled by the council and the leadership (or lack thereof) of Mayor Tom Leppert. I asked council member Mitchell Rasansky if he had issues with the way the amendments were handled by Leppert, to which he responded, “Damn right.”
Rasansky then told me that during the recent quarterly meeting of the chairs of the Economic Development Committee, Trinity River Corridor Project Committee and Finance, Audit & Accountability Committee, council member Ron Natinsky told Leppert that he had spoken with all the council members and had an agreement on the amendments for the budget.
“I didn’t know what the hell was going on,” Rasansky tells Unfair Park.
Rasansky explained to Natinsky, Leppert and Dave Neumann that he had not been asked about his amendments, and their response was silence. He found out later that Angela Hunt also hadn’t been asked about her amendments.
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Rasansky and Hunt might have put more work into the budget than any other council member. Meanwhile, Ron Natinsky was working behind the scenes to gather a consensus on the amendments while leaving both of them, along with their constituents, in the dark. As Rasansky says, Leppert didn’t want to get his hands involved and let Natinsky do his bidding, possibly violating the Open Meetings Act in the process. And Rasansky and Hunt were never given the opportunity to have their amendments heard.
“The city mayor does not want to talk to the council members about their amendments and doesn’t want to come out publicly?” Rasansky says. “Gimme a break. Let me put my luggage down.”
Rasansky says Leppert is clueless when it comes to the budget.
“This guy is ... what’s the word I can say ... disappointing,” he says. “Totally disappointing.” --Sam Merten