City councilmembers hear proposed budget from Mayor

Mayor Leirion Gaylor Baird presented new cuts and ideas for the 2020-2021 budget and Chair Richard Meginnis approves of the choice to do only one year vs. the usual bi–annual budget.
Budget

Mayor Leirion Gaylor Baird presented new cuts and ideas for the 2020-2021 budget and Chair Richard Meginnis approves of the choice to do only one year vs. the usual bi-annual budget.
“I personally, not speaking on behalf of the city council, think it’s a smart idea and doing this because this year’s budget, numbers are gonna be totally different than the next year we hope,” said Meginnis. “We hope everything gets back to normal by next year so we can go and do a whole different type of budget.”
The budget does not call for any property tax increases but there are some things on the chopping block. Baird suggests reducing department budgets by $8 million, reducing capital improvement projects like sidewalk and playground improvements.
It also includes paying off bond debt early to save more than $500,000. Councilman Bennie Shobe said he is a bit concerned about some of the cuts but is glad community services are still being supported.
“Some of the capitol improvement cuts were concerning to me and sidewalks are always an issue for people,” said Shobe. “But we’re also gonna move a little bit more money toward some of the public safety issues, some mental health issues, and some parks things.”
Shobe encourages the public to look over the budget as well and share their opinions at the upcoming public hearings. The council is set to hear from the different departments this week and possibly make changes before approving the final budget later this year.
The mayor wants all police officers to have body cameras. She admits it’s not cheap and says the body-worn camera program costs over half a million dollars but, it is what the police and public want, in these times.
“It’s a really expensive thing for us to undertake but, we think we have to do that,” said Baird. “The police department wants it the community wants it. It helps with transparency. Now is the time to make that happen.”

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