Kingston moves on on budget committee

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By Mike Gibson

After tabling it a few months back, Kingston City Council members decided a  budget committee might not be such a bad idea after all.

Technically, the correct title of the new board created at the July council meeting is the Financial Review Committee.

“Budget committee” is what it was called last spring, when the idea came up at a council work session, but died for lack of support.

Its reintroduction this month, however, is a different story.

“It’s probably a very prudent thing to do,” said Councilman John Byrkit.

Byrkit said it could help the city’s new manager, David Bolling.

“And it would be a good business practice,” he added.

Councilman Norm Sugarman called it “an extra checkpoint for us… a source of additional knowledge.”

City Attorney Sandy McPherson advised that the city charter required a new ordinance to establish the committee, and set forth the terms of its operation.

Council voted unanimously to have McPherson begin drafting an ordinance, and to include council members Sugarman and Tony Brown on the committee’s first incarnation.

Mayor Troy Beets has long been in favor of having such a committee.
“I’ve wanted to do this since I became mayor in 2005,” he said. “I’ve always thought it was a good idea.”

According to Beets, the committee would comprise two council members, the city manager, the city finance officer and administrative staff.
He said council members would serve for the duration of their terms in office.

The committee would “allow more frequent updates to the council” on budget issues, Beets said. “It will let elected officials who vote be more frequently informed about budget issues, kind of cut down on surprises,” he said. “It will not have any power. It can’t change the budget. It will just keep council informed.”

As to the frequency of the committee’s activities, Beets said he’s uncertain.

But monthly meetings will probably be advisable at the start.

“I see this as, they get together in a room and say this is our budget, this is what we have from the state, this is what we’re not getting, things like that,” Beets said. “Lots of back and forth.”