Forest Park yet to agree on 2003-04 budget

By Ed Brock

Forest Park's mayor and three council members are waiting on each other to call for a work session to discuss the 2003-2004 budget.

Meanwhile, the city is operating on last year's budget and Monday night the council will be asked to vote on several line items for amounts that exceed the monthly amount allowed for those items from the previous budget.

The items include over $270,000 in insurance premiums that will already be a day overdue by the time the council votes on them.

During the council's last meeting in June, Council members Corine Deyton, Debbie Youmans and Donald Judson voted to table the proposed budget until a work session could be held to discuss the issues they have with it. Mayor Chuck Hall said he's been waiting for the council members to schedule the work session.

"They're the ones who tabled it," Hall said.

But the other three said they are waiting on Hall.

"I didn't know it was up to us," Judson said.

Judson said he wants to try to include a raise for city employees and perhaps lower the city's millage rate to give a tax break to homeowners. A recent appraisal increased the property value in much of the city.

"I'm still not comfortable with the numbers I'm seeing," Youmans said regarding her issues with the budget.

Specifically, Youmans said she wants to see a report on the grant money the city has received.

"I can't make a decision without all the information," Youmans said.

As for the line item resolutions, Youmans said she didn't like having to make a decision by Monday since she only received the information on Thursday afternoon.

"I feel like this information should have been known since July 1," Youmans said. "We're being thrust in front of the public to do this."

The information was delayed due to a misunderstanding on her part, City Clerk Sarah Davis said, but she expects to be able to provide the same information by Aug. 4 for next month's line items if the new budget hasn't been approved by then.

But the line items aren't even necessary, Deyton said, since the money should be there to pay for them.

At the same time, the city's spending habits are one thing Deyton wants to review before approving the new budget.

"With the economy still slumping we need to cut back as much as we can and I don't think we've done that with this budget," Deyton said. "You've got to have something for that rainy day."

The council meeting is scheduled to begin at 7 p.m. in city hall.