City council votes down citizen budget committee
In a surprise move Wednesday, an attempt to create a seven-member citizens budget advisory committee for the city of Yuma failed by a four to three margin.
Two other citizen committees were established to advise the Yuma City Council on roads and on development fees, but those votes were split, too.
A major roadways plan advisory committee was created by a four to three vote and an impact fee advisory committee sailed through on a six to one vote.
Newcomer Councilman Scott Johnson pulled all three committee resolutions off of the council's consent agenda and asked that they be handled separately.
After discussing the need for a citizens budget committee at length, Councilman Scott Johnson, Councilman Paul Johnson, Councilman Al Krieger and Deputy Mayor Ema Lea Shoop voted against the resolution creating the committee while Mayor Larry Nelson and councilmen Bobby Brooks and Gerry Giss voted for it.
In voting the committee down, Scott Johnson said, "I just don't see where one more layer of bureaucracy is going to be the answer to our problems. I feel like I was elected to this position and I will welcome the budget when it gets to me."
Councilman Paul Johnson said it's the city administrator's job to prepare the budget and the city council's job to make adjustments to it if necessary and then approve it.
"I don't think we need another layer of unelected people not responsible to the voters," Paul Johnson said. He said the council was only seeking "political cover" by attempting to insert a layer of "citizens" between it and the hard decisions the city is facing in the coming fiscal year.
The city is anticipating further loss of state-shared revenues contributing to another tight budget in fiscal year 2004-2005.
This year's budget saw the institution of a first-ever monthly residential trash fee as well as a steep hike in water rates.
Yuma's nonprofit agencies have already been put on notice not to depend on their traditional contributions from the city in the coming year.
By state law, the city must have a preliminary budget in place by July at the latest and a final budget in place by August.
The two committees that were created will operate under Arizona's open meetings laws, said City Attorney Steve Moore. That includes posting of written agendas 24 hours in advance and keeping minutes of what happens at the meetings.
The members of those committees should be appointed at the council's next meeting, Mayor Nelson said.
Scott Johnson was the lone vote against the creation of the citizen impact fee advisory committee, while Scott Johnson, Paul Johnson and Krieger were the three votes against the major roadways plan advisory committee.