As mentioned in Ben Lanka's story in this morning's JG, councilmen Mitch Harper and Tom Smith held a press conference to discuss their objections towards the mayor's request to increase property taxes. Both councilmen questioned the legality of retroactively changing the budget as requested by the city controller. You can read the full press release here.
I will have video of the press conference up later tonight or early tomorrow but I wanted to touch on one specific part of their press conference that I found particularly troubling. During his remarks Harper mentioned that the administration had wanted to move forward on this proposed tax increase without a public hearing. Frankly, I was somewhat surprised by this and so I asked councilman Harper if he would elaborate on that point. (Apologies for the shaky video, I didn't have a tripod)
You can read the letter to the city controller that Harper mentions in the video here
It's certainly unusual for a new administration to try and retroactively change the budget after a new council is elected, but to do so without a public hearing or a formal opportunity for the public to speak for or against the idea is an outrage. I have to think this is the work of mayor Richard's holdovers.
Just because they can make a legal argument for such action doesn't make it the right course of action to take. Mayor Henry showed a propensity towards open government when he hired a second public information officer but he needs to reign in his entire staff and make it clear that this is not how the city will do business.
More to come...