Portage Council members criticize mayor’s distance from budget process
BY JOHN ROBBINS Post-Tribune correspondent September 3, 2013 10:00PM
Updated: September 3, 2013 10:51PM
The Portage City Council on Tuesday night approved advertising a $29,635,000 budget for 2014.
As proposed, estimated expenditures exceed estimated revenue by about $240,000, whittled down from an original gap of about $800,000.
Earlier Tuesday, the council budget committee met and expressed dissatisfaction with Mayor James Snyder for not attending budget committee meetings.
An email sent to council members in late August by council president Sue Lynch said in part, “Something as important as the preparation of the city budget needs to be attended to by the Mayor of our City.” In the email, Lynch also said she “would expect the Mayor to be in attendance at our next budget meeting.”
The budget committee met just before the full council meeting, and committee chairman Matt Scheuer was among those upset with the mayor.
“I don’t see him (Mayor Snyder) here. For me that’s a big problem,” Scheuer said.
At the council meeting later, Scheuer grilled the mayor about his absence, saying, “I thought there was some urgency to craft a budget.”
Councilman Patrick Clem joined in the questioning, “You don’t think your presence is important at these meetings?”
Asked later about his role in the budget process, Snyder defended sending others to represent him.
“I have department heads to do the job and they’re doing a fine job. We propose the budget. They can change the budget as they see fit.”
Snyder is confident the budget gap will eventually be resolved.
“We don’t have an answer to the problem, but through the course of the year we’ll figure it out,” Snyder said.
The Portage 2014 budget is scheduled to be formally adopted at the Oct. 1 council meeting.
In other council action, public works director A.J. Monroe announced paving set for: Lute Road, from Swanson to Destiny; Monnier, from Central Avenue to Mulberry; and Central, from Domby to Willowdale.
Monroe said $369,000 has been culled from various sources to pay for the paving.