Councilmen Elect Press for Budget Changes

The new Mammoth Town Council, 90 days out, will be different. That’s what Councilman-Elect Rick Wood has vowed.

Privately, citizens say, good. The Town budget has galvanized the thirst for change, but not much satisfaction at Wednesday’s budget workshop.

“I was disappointed,” said Wood, “that there was no progress. I didn’t think the mayor was proactively engaged.” 55 minutes of talk did not include a citizen reading her letter about the budget and did include some back and forth over where to go from here. That’s still unclear.

Councilman-Elect Matthew Lehman called the first two budget workshops “very slow.” He said he’s looking forward to a longer session next week. Lehman went right to his own priorities which are more money for marketing and recreation.

Councilman John Eastman wanted to focus on revenue projections before discussion of how to spend the Town’s money. Wood pressed his point about each council member declaring priorities. “It’s going to get real on June 30th,” Wood predicted. Through discussion and debate, he said, priorities will emerge. Then they have to be put in order.

On the 30th, Wood and Matthew Lehman still won’t be sworn in as official council members, but they will take part in debate. In fact, Wood said he will challenge each council member to see if they can all find a consensus.

Deb Pierrel had earlier sent the Council a letter which calls for a budget over haul in terms of presentation, format, readability and transparency. The mayor told her she would have to wait for the agenda item on the budget. She did, but it took four hours to get there.

Councilman-Elect Lehman said he agrees with Pierrel’s take on the budget. “It’s a bit challenging to read,” he said. Lehman also feels some language is misleading – like alleged savings for doing away with furlough Fridays. Lehman said, for one, he wants to take the time to deal with the critical issue of the budget. “I’m not going to feel rushed,” he stated.

With the awkward timing of new council members taking their seats after the required adoption of a new budget, officials are talking about continuing this year’s budget for awhile to allow the new council to hammer out the 2010/2011 budget. Wood wants to order town staff to “deliver a readable budget.” He agreed that the current budget form has created a disconnect between the Mammoth public and its government.


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