Suffolk Tea Party issues “Better City Challenge” to Council, School Board

On Monday, March 19, 2013, Councilman Parr said, “I’d love to see a line item budget from the schools.” We agree, and would like to challenge the Councilman to take it a step further and also request a line item budget from the city.

Mayor Johnson has said repeatedly that the budget is not due until the end of June. There is plenty of time for both the School Board and the City Council to put together and release a line item budget. We would like to see these line item budgets available to the public 30 days ahead of a public hearing, to allow the citizens of this city to give the City Council and the School Board ideas and direction for ways to trim down both budgets.

It was very disingenuous of the City Council to hold a public hearing requesting citizens to give them “specific ideas of where to cut city spending” without giving the citizens any sort of documentation ahead of time detailing city spending habits.

It also appears that either the School Board or the Education Association of Suffolk has misled the teachers. Teachers need to know that the School Board gets a lump sum from the city. It is the School Board’s responsibility to distribute that money in a manner they see fit. The city has very little to do with the teachers’ pay raise.

At the end of the public hearing, several councilmen, especially Mr. Duman and Mr. Parr, commented that although they had heard the two messages; NO to more taxes & fund the schools, that they were disappointed the citizens had not given them specifics to cut in order to fulfill those two messages.

Councilman Parr himself came up with an idea to save the city some money in the council meeting on March 6th. When he mentioned that he did not want to hear people telling him to cut the council’s salaries, Mayor Johnson said with a chuckle, “That would be wonderful if it would balance the budget, but it won’t work.” Councilman Parr then chimed in with, “If $20,000 or $15,000 will do it, they can have it.” We would challenge the Councilman & the Mayor, as well as the rest of the Council, and even the School Board, to follow through.

But despite the councilmen’s assertions, there were several options mentioned, including cutting back on city vehicles & not funding 100% of the city manager’s healthcare costs. It was otherwise impossible for citizens to give the Councilmen what they wanted due to a lack of information about the city’s spending habits.

As such, we, the Suffolk Chapter of the Hampton Roads Tea Party, do challenge the City Council, the City Manager’s Office, and the School Board to:

  • Release a line item budget.
  • Post said budget online and allow 30 days for citizens to peruse the documents.
  • Hold a public meeting, town hall style to allow for true interaction between the City Council /School Board and the public. Anyone who does NOT have anything to say beyond “fund the schools” should be told to add their names to a list, and allow for those with genuine ideas about spending reform to be heard.

The ball is in your court Councilmen. Make it happen.

** Cross posted from Suffolk HRTP

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