ARGYLE — Half of the Argyle Town Council members refused to vote for changes made to the proposed 2012-13 budget because they say the mayor identified and requested changes without the council or staff’s input.
In the absence of council member Joey Hasty, Mayor Matt Smith was left with a tiebreaking vote to approve the proposed budget, including his changes, during Tuesday night’s council meeting.
Place 4 council member Bonny Haynes and Place 5 council member Peggy Krueger said the changes were unnecessary, and voted against them. They said the additional cuts were unnecessary and that the mayor identified the changes without council or staff input.
“Don’t take this the wrong way. Staff has done a very good job on this,” Smith said. “We’re looking at expenditures exceeding revenues, and I think we still have an opportunity to go through where we can save money.”
Krueger also said the council had no time to review line items the mayor wanted changed because he submitted the items during Tuesday’s meeting.
“I refuse to vote [for] anything that I haven’t had time to look over and review,” Krueger said.
Council members David Wintermute and Joan Delashaw voted in favor of the proposed budget.
Haynes said she preferred the budget as proposed two weeks ago. That budget proposal was primarily constructed by each department identifying their respective needs.
“Staff did a good job presenting a budget that was reasonable and pretty bare-bones,” she said.
Haynes said that a few weeks ago the council gave department heads instructions to make cuts to their respective budgets.
Haynes and Krueger said that each department exceeded the council’s expectations for how much they wanted to be trimmed.
Despite exceeding the council’s expectations, Smith insisted that more cuts be made. He identified several places in the proposed budget he said he felt needed further cutting, including 2 percent pay increases for salaried employees.
Krueger said the department heads made the necessary cuts to their budgets and it was only fair to reinstate the 2 percent raises.
“Since they reduced [their budgets] so much, we could put [the raises] back in. We could probably put more back in,” she said.
Other line items that were reduced included supplies, training conferences, contracted services and repair and maintenance.
The council and staff spent about two hours reviewing and discussing the proposed 2012-13 budget Tuesday. A public hearing on the budget and a final vote are scheduled for Sept. 25.
The budget has an estimated $2.5 million in expenditures, and an estimated $118,000 deficit.
Smith’s desire to cut the budget started when he asked then-Interim Town Manager Rod Hogan to find places to trim $150,000 that could be reinvested for “quality of life projects,” like parks, and for contingencies.
Smith said he told Hogan that he didn’t want any cuts to come from payroll.
However, Hogan told Smith that the only place $150,000 could come from was 10 percent pay cuts.
The council voted 3-2 to end Hogan’s contract Aug. 28.
Smith said Hogan was released because he made poor management decisions and didn’t communicate well with town staff.
Haynes said Hogan was bullied out because Smith did not agree with the interim town manager’s suggestions or direction.
“Hogan told us it was impossible for the funds to come from anywhere else but payroll,” Haynes said. “Hogan’s firing was the result of the mayor not getting his way. They raked him over the coals.”
JOHN D. HARDEN can be reached at 940-566-6882. His e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org .