Councillors Vote to Restore Funding Levels

January 15, 2014
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One of the first actions of new Council President Tony Zambuto would likely increase the Council’s expense account by $120 per month.

Zambuto introduced his motion on Monday night as the last piece of business at the meeting calling for the City Clerk’s Office Supply account to be restored to 2009 budgetary levels.

He indicated that the motion was intended to fund certificates of appreciation for residents – as the board was experiencing a shortfall in the account that funds such niceties.

“We have cheerleaders coming up to get certificates for winning a national championship and that’s going to cost $300 and we don’t have the budget for it,” he said at the meeting.

That said, the Office Supply Account is the same account that also funds the Council’s expense account – which comes in addition to the Council salary.

City Clerk Ashley Melnik confirmed that the motion would actually increase the expense account to its former levels, as well as increase the funds for office supplies.

The total increase in the expense account spending for all 11 councillors under Zambuto’s motion would come out to $15,840 per year.

For years, each councillor received a $600 a month expense account in addition to his or her salary. After 2009, due to the economic recession, councillors agreed to reduce the account to $480 per month.

Last summer, a bitter fight over increasing that expense account unfolded during budget discussions – with councillors turning down a $120 per month increase on a narrow 4-5 vote. Many councillors, believe it or not, are not in favor of the increase.

Zambuto said he didn’t intend to raise the expense account with his motion, but said it would probably be an unintended result.

“That really wasn’t the intent of this at all,” he said after the meeting.

Among some councillors, there was a considerable amount of grumbling after the meeting about the motion – which some thought was a veiled attempt to increase the account.

What appears to be happening now is that councillors that did not support Zambuto for president last week are now lining up against his motion. The motion was sent to Ways and Means Committee for more study.

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