City Commission discusses budget issues

Mayor David Lyons and Commissioner Wilkins discuss concerns about the City of LaBelle’s budget at the Commission Meeting on April 12. (Submitted photo/Megan Niclole Narehood)

Commissioner Julie Wilkins requested to have a budget workshop at the Commission Meeting on April 12. Commissioner Tommy Smith was absent for the meeting.

Commissioner Julie Wilkins requested to have a budget workshop for the second time, the first time being the Commission Meeting on March 8, to get into detail about what different departments are allocated and if the amounts need to be changed. She said the Commissioners could meet 30 minutes earlier at a Commission meeting, so it wouldn’t take up a lot of time. “I would like to have a little more grasp of detail,” said Wilkins.

Mayor David Lyons asked Wilkins, “Do you want to micromanage? If you want to go into detail, on what these guys do, that is what you’re saying.”

“No,” said Wilkins. “We are supposed to be the guiding hand of the city. If we don’t look for new ways to improve, or to make things better, or, to even at least, think about if there are ways to do it better, are we doing our job?”
“If you have individual issues with something in the budget you can have an individual meeting with the department,” said Mayor Lyons.

“We talked about maintenance before and there is a lot of stuff that needs TLC,” said Wilkins, “Then the cost of it comes up. How much money is there for us to do stuff like that? The pump at Barron Park has been down for at least three, maybe five years,” said Wilkins.

“Basically, if I’m curious about the budget, I just need to deal with it all on my own,” said Wilkins, “you all don’t care? Is that what it boils down to?”

“We all care,” said Commissioner Daniel Akin, “it just sounds like you have individual questions. I already asked the same questions, though. It’s a flowchart issue.”

“There was a time, in the past, where the departments sat down and figured out how many employees were needed and how much it would cost,” said Wilkins.

Akin said LaBelle has a strong Mayor system. “LaBelle has a strong Mayor system and it is the Mayor’s job to check on the budget. If I have individual questions about the budget I ask,” said Akin.

Mayor Lyons said he meets with the departments once a week and it is “handled.” “I told them from the get-go when I got this job. I’m not going to micromanage these departments,” said Mayor Lyons.

“The thing about things not getting done is a valid point,” said Akin, “The thing about the park, I know I asked a few times before you were on the board.”

“We’re the ones that are ultimately responsible, whether we’re strong Mayor or not,” said Wilkins. She said Mayor Lyons has weekly meetings, but we don’t. “If we have staff we are not using could that money go over to paving more streets?” asked Wilkins, “because we do need more streets paved. If we budgeted the same budget we’ve had for the past ten years except for minor increases and we have less staff that we don’t have by attrition then we are funding positions that are no longer there so if they are not there can we use that money for something else or do we need a staff person? To me that’s a board decision.”

“I try to be aware of what we can do with the money that we have available,” said Mayor Lyons, “I don’t like to spend time working on a lot of projects I know we have no chance of getting funded.”

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