A city issue: Just how to budget

CITY-HALL By Joe Lambe

A rift opened Wednesday when the council finance committee discussed a proposed charter change to the budget process.

Among the Charter Review Commission’s recommended changes is to give the mayor somewhat more control over the budget process.

Councilman Dick Davis said Wednesday, “The old system is better.”

Councilwoman Jan Marcason said, “I disagree.”

So what some thought a minor change is clearly not. But it is complicated.

Currently the city manager gives his budget to the mayor by Jan. 15 – at the same time it goes to the council and the public.

Then the council and mayor can both jockey with changes the full time before the budget must be approved in late March.

The proposed change would involve the mayor and the manager working on the budget together until Feb. 15 and then making it public.

But Councilman John Sharp said he wants to see the city manager’s recommended budget before input by the mayor.

“I want to know what his recommendation is and what your recommendations are and not a blended document,” Sharp told City Manager Troy Schulte.

The change would leave the city manager’s work in the shadows, Sharp said, and put the manager and his staff in a bad position.

To complain, Sharp said, “He’d have to decide if he felt strong enough to take on his boss.”

Councilwoman Cindy Circo said the new way would not change anything and staff could still make a suggestion without fear.

“I have not seen one staff die on a sword,” she said. When one recommends something, “sometimes we accept it, sometimes we tweak it, sometimes we completely ignore it.”

To make things more complicated, the charter was changed in 1998 to allow the manager to present his budget to the mayor a month before the mayor gave it to the council.

But a few years ago, a reporter successfully argued that violated the sunshine law and since then manager’s budget has gone to everyone at once.

The change would eliminate the sunshine problem and largely take the situation back to where it was before.


  1. Jewell says:

    I fail to see how the “sunshine law” is a problem? Wasn’t the change made “a few years ago” designed to make the City’s inner workings a bit more transparent? How then is this now a problem? If any proposed change allows the budget process to become more politicized, these elected officials might want to look long & hard at the repercussions. FYI -This is a poorly-written article.

    • Rose says:

      This article is very well written and succinct. I appreciate the brevity of the articles on the Midtown KC post.

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