Kent city budget goes back to the drawing board

Steven Bushong

Kent City Council adopted each section of the proposed 2008 city budget last night, but taken altogether, the $38.7 million budget went unapproved.

Council members cited disparities in numbers, questionable budgeting practices and unobserved letters to council – letters regarding the budget – as reasons for voting against it, 3-4. The budget will now go back to the administration for review.

Ward 4 Councilman John Kuhar was among the last to comment on the proposed budget before the final vote was taken. He recognized the administration’s efforts to cut costs, but suggested that wasn’t enough.

“The state of our country’s economy is where it’s at today because people are spending more money than they’re making,” Kuhar said. The proposed budget had a deficit near $2 million, which is similar to previous years’ deficits.

The budget had been crafted by City Manager Dave Ruller under the guidance of a Blue Ribbon Panel. The panel of financial experts spent 100 hours, according to a city budget progress report, creating a financial framework for Ruller to follow in creating the budget. The panel set priorities for city spending.

City Council voted Aug. 3 to adopt the panel’s recommendations in principle, but at last night’s finance committee meeting, Ward 5 Councilman Edward Bargerstock dismissed the plan as nonsense.

“We’re still spending more money than revenue,” he said. “What you’re doing is predicating a budget that will force new taxes upon the residents.”

Bargerstock, Kuhar, Ward 2 Councilwoman Carrie Gavriloff and Ward 6 Councilwoman Beth Oswitch voted no. Councilmen at large Michael DeLeone and Richard Hawksley and Ward 3 Councilman Wayne Wilson, also the finance chair, voted yes.

Council members spoke relatively short about the positive aspects of the budget. Hawksley said the budget was balanced. John Kuhar said it was a “nice budget” and looked good, but voted no.

Councilman-at-large William Schultz and Ward 1 Councilman Garret Ferrara were not in attendance.

City Council will have a regular meeting Nov. 14 at 7:30 p.m.

Contact public affairs reporter Steven Bushong at [email protected].