For Augusta City Administrator Fred Russell, the budget work goes on, and one order of business implement an across the board 2.4 percent cut for city departments.
"We're going to ask the department heads to tell us how they can best do that because they're the ones with the boots on the ground that actually know the impact that will have...take a look at that and bring it back to the Commission," says Russell.
But, for some city leaders, that is not all that needs to come back to the Augusta Commission after Tuesday's budget vote.
"To be quite honest with you, I'm not sure it was a legal vote," said Commissioner Alvin Mason. "What do you mean?" we asked. "There was a lot added to the motion after the motion was voted on," he answered.
After Commissioners approved a balanced budget, Russell adding some additional wording for the record.
"That talks about the mechanism for determining the 2.4 percent cut, and a few other housekeeping issues there that can be handled administratively, but I felt more comfortable trying to get them into the budget amendment," said Russell.
"All the stuff he's talking about has to be voted on again," says Commissioner Marion Williams, who objected at Tuesday's meeting to Russell's added wording. "Have to be voted on again, the Administrator is wrong for that," says Williams.
"Do you think you're going to have to bring this back to the Commisison to vote on?" we asked Russell. "I don't think so, I don't think so at this point," he said.
"You can't take a vote and add verbiage to it after you've taken a vote. Anybody with one eye and one leg will be able to tell you that, George," said Williams.
"I think you're trying to make a mountain out of a mole hill. We're trying to do something at the end that I can do administratively," says Russell.
"This is not his call, he works for the Commission...the Commission don't work for him," says Williams.
"He says he can do it himself," we said to Williams. "That's what he said, he can do it himself? He's always saying that. I was going to be an advocate for Mister Russell, but his time is out," said Williams.
We secured a copy of the Augusta Finance Department director's handwritten notes that Russell read into the record. The note says to allow Finance to incorporate the adjustments to the fund totals attached as backup. Request a plan of action from department directors for 2.4 percent reductions to be identified, and proposed fee increases will not be implemented until approved by Commission.
Russell admits he could have listed these items before the vote, but says there's no reason to bring it back to the Commission for a vote, despite the outrage from certain members.
The Commission is scheduled to meet again December 17th.
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