Saturday, May 10, 2008

Metro Council to look at mayor's budget deadline again

By MICHAEL CASS • Staff Writer (Tennessean) • May 9, 2008 A proposal to give Nashville's mayor an extra two months to prepare the city's operating budget each year could go to the voters in a charter amendment referendum this summer, Metro Council members said today. The council will decide next month whether to put the proposal on the August ballot, said Councilman Rip Ryman, who is sponsoring the council bill. The idea is to change the deadline for the mayor's budget recommendations back to May 25, which was the original deadline until voters changed the Metro Charter in November 2006. The deadline is now March 25, giving the council an additional two months to review and tweak the mayor's proposal. But Ryman, who chaired the council's budget committee last year and serves on it this year, said the change has made the mayor's job more difficult and hasn't helped the council in a substantive way. "I just don't see that last year or this year we've accomplished anything," he said, adding that full revenue projections from the state aren't available by March 25. "We had it like that for 40 years." Councilman Jim Gotto said he was opposed to going all the way back to the earlier deadline, however. Five weeks isn't enough time for the council to digest the mayor's proposal, talk to all the Metro departments and make changes, he said. The council has to approve the operating budget by June 30."I'm not sure we need as long as we have, but we certainly don't need to go back to the way it was," Gotto said. "That's just ridiculous." Gotto said getting the mayor's budget proposal by May 1 "would probably be sufficient." Metro Finance Director Rich Riebeling, Mayor Karl Dean's budget chief, said the extra time would be helpful, "but it's not something we're out there advocating or demanding." Ryman's charter amendment proposal would need to be approved by 27 of the 40 council members to be placed on the August ballot, where it would need approval from a simple majority of voters.

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