2017-07-13 / Front Page

Court Proceedings Concerning Budget Matters Forthcoming

BY TANYA TERRY

810-452-2645 * tterry@mihomepaper.com

BURTON — Proceedings in the court case concerning the legality of the Burton City Council’s recent action in adopting a fiscal year 2017-2018 budget are forthcoming.

Attorneys disagree on their legal interpretations of the city charter.

Mayor Paula Zelenko is being represented by Attorney Patrick Greenfelder.

“The council did not have the authority to amend the mayor’s budget proposal,” Greenfelder said. “They do not according to the city charter. They only have the authority to approve it or reject it. If they reject it, it goes back to the mayor to revise and propose again.”

The Burton City Council is being represented by Jack Belzer.

“If you read the city charter and the state statute, I think the council’s position is correct,” Belzer said. “It says the council determines a budget.”

Both attorney had a conference with Judge Judith A. Fullerton of the 7th Judicial Circuit Court, which lasted approximately and hour and a half, on July 7.

Afterwards each attorney met privately with the parties they represent.

“We’re willing to go back into meeting and work on a compromise,” said Rik Hayman, Zelenko’s chief of staff, on July 7.

Councilman Vaughn Smith said the possibility of a compromise depended on what administration asked.

“What we’re trying to accomplish is to reduce the amount of labor and fringes the city is paying for,” Smith said.

Zelenko has 103 people in her budget.

Although Hayman said Smith is mistaken in some of his information about the city’s past workforce, Smith said the city has historically operated with 93-95 employees.

“The mayor has empty positions she is not willing to give up,” Smith said. “I feel that money could be better used for the roads, without going for a millage. We’re also still hemorrhaging in regards to health insurance and pension.”

Fullerton asked Zelenko and the city council members to have another meeting to see if they could reach a compromise. A special meeting was held July 10.

Hayman said although Zelenko incorporated most of the council’s recommendations at the meeting, council wasn’t interested in addressing those issues. He said although council feels they have a budget, the city does not have a budget as far as administration is concerned.

“The mayor has said repeatedly and publicly that she does not intend to fill most of the vacant  postions,” Hayman said.  “There are 92 full time employees with the city currently. The mayor does not intend to take the vacant positions out of her proposed budget. A budget isn’t an obligation to spend. It’s quite common to put a number in the budget and not spend that money. The money goes back into fund balance, which helps the city. That money carries over into the next year and can be used however council and the mayor decide to use it. The mayor just wants to make sure the money is there in case something happens and the city needs to fill those positions.”

Proceedings will continue at the courthouse July 14.

 

 

Return to top

Copyright © 2009-2017 The Burton View, All Rights Reserved

Click here for digital edition
2017-07-13 digital edition