Leesburg Town Council members may have spent longer driving to and from Thursday night’s special meeting than they did attending it.
A special meeting called by Mayor David Butler lasted merely 20 minutes.
Butler called for the meeting Wednesday, two days after a Town Council work session when a majority said they were not yet ready to put forward ideas for additions or deletions to the proposed budget. Butler suggested the council postpone votes on both the proposed real estate tax rate and the adoption of the budget by two weeks. Initial adoption of both was eyed for meetings the week of April 11. In addition to Butler, council members Bruce Gemmill, Tom Dunn and Kelly Burk said they were in favor of the delay, although not all council members were polled when it was clear there were four votes to support postponement.
Town Council members have had 33 days to review the proposed budget.
Town Manager Kaj Dentler presented his $94 million budget on Feb. 23. The town operates with a biannual budget and this year’s spending plan is considered a “budget by exception,” with much of the fiscal picture and plan laid out last year. The proposed budget is a 4 percent decrease from the current fiscal year’s budget.
Thursday night’s special meeting appeared to be an attempt by Butler to give the council another opportunity to put forward straw votes for budget changes and keep the budget process on schedule.
But the council again was not prepared to do so. Twenty minutes into the meeting, Gemmill made a motion to adjourn the meeting, which was seconded by Dunn. Only Butler and Councilwoman Kelly Burk opposed adjournment. Councilman Marty Martinez was not present for Thursday’s special meeting.
“I think it’s obvious we’re just not prepared for this meeting today,” Gemmill said in making the motion.
Although no straw votes were taken, a few council members shared their priorities Thursday. Butler stated his preference for the proposed tax rate of 18.72 cents per $100 of assessed value. Burk and Councilwoman Katie Hammler said they supported a proposed project by the Environmental Advisory Commission to install meters to monitor energy consumption in the town’s six highest-usage buildings. But Hammler said to support that project—which would add $55,000 to the FY17 budget—she wanted to find something of that same value to delete from the budget. One adjustment Hammler put forward was capping the proposed employee pay-for-performance raises at 3 percent, something Butler said he was not in favor of.