Bradenton Beach commissioners, seeking to overcome a $104,000 budget deficit in 2012-13, clashed July 16 at city hall during a second round of budget talks.
Commissioner Jan Vosburgh questioned in an email the process, expressing disappointment at across-the-board increases in department budgets.
Vosburgh, who has been attending city meetings via live video from Utah, wrote, “The reason I’m bringing this up is that I’m trying to convince you to see this budget in a more conservative way and to look out for our citizens.”
Vosburgh continued, “As we are going through the budget, not one dime was reduced in any department … I am very conscientious and take this job very seriously.”
Vosburgh said she has years of business experience and, “I would not feel that I am doing my job unless I try to convince all of you that we are going in the wrong direction if we do not try to balance the budget.”
Vosburgh’s email prompted a response from Commissioner Ric Gatehouse, who said her letter contained inaccuracies and misstatements.
“First, let me say that by calling for budget cuts and admonishing commission for not finding cuts, while not identifying any specific line items where (Vosburgh) could find cuts, is somewhat disingenuous and could be construed as mere political posturing,” Gatehouse said.
Gatehouse said commissioners should cut costs, and offered his proposals to save $50,000.
Vosburgh asked in her email if the commission’s budget cuts during last summer’s budget process had an adverse impact on the city.
Commissioner Gay Breuler said she believes the previous budget cuts went too far.
“I do believe we cut the budget in such a way last year that we caused disruption among the staff and left little to play with in emergency situations,” said Breuler. “We allocated nothing for capital improvements and little or nothing for maintenance issues.”
“You left nothing in the budget for emergencies, which always occur, which is why we have scrambled on every issue that has come up to find the funds to fix it,” he said.
Vosburgh said she is not criticizing anyone and respects the views of her fellow commissioners, but “you all seem to have different views than I do.”
Mayor John Shaughnessy addressed the back-and-forth July 17, before commissioners addessed the public works budget.
I’d like to say to the commission that over the last few days there has been some discourse within the commission,” he said. “As far as last year’s budget is concerned, I don’t care who voted for it. It’s done. It’s over.”
Shaughnessy said the issue at hand is the 2012-13 budget.
“My concern is this budget and how commission can come up with and vote on what’s reasonable and what the city needs,” he said.
The mayor said it’s important how that process occurs.
“Let’s not be petty and take things to heart,” he said. “I have no doubt that everyone has the city’s best interest at heart, and I know we can all work together to get what’s best for Bradenton Beach.”