But Commissioner Michelle Spence-Jones expressed concern that the budget is based on trimming expenses instead of bringing in more money to city coffers.
The commission also gave a tentative nod to a new tax rate of $8.47 for every $1,000 of taxable assessed property — a slight decrease from last year.
“We need to do more to generate revenues,” Spence-Jones said. “I just don’t feel we’re doing enough to address the bottom line.”
Money matters took center stage at City Hall earlier in the day, too.
Prior to the budget hearing, commissioners considered a controversial request by the finance department to spend $195,000 on an outside consultant. The consultant would conduct an organizational review of the department and create a new business plan, city records show.
Commissioner Frank Carollo said he was willing to consider the expense.
“We obviously have financial problems,” he said, noting that this year’s audited financial report was delayed.
But Suarez fought against it. “I can’t stomach having to pay an outside consultant to do what I consider to be the job of the [finance] director,” he said.
Suarez also raised concerns about Finance Director Stephen Petty, who was hired this year to help clean up the finance department. Suarez pointed out that Petty had no prior experience in government and does not have an active CPA license.
“I suggest we hire a director that’s capable of handling the department,” the chairman said.
Commissioners decided to put off a decision on the consultant until the Sept. 27 meeting, saying they needed more time to understand why the expense is necessary.