Green: Council can't act on budget bill

City Councilman Bill Green threw a wrench in the budget process Thursday morning, declaring that legislation to raise property taxes was invalid because no Council member was willing to put their name on the bill.

Council and the administration were poised to finalize a budget deal today, with some combination of property taxes, cuts, and maybe a version of the sweet drinks tax used to fill a gap of about $130 million in the proposed $3.9 billion 2010-2011 budget.

Councilman Frank DiCicco, who previously sponsored a bill to raise property taxes 12 percent, withdrew that bill last week because his colleagues were unwilling to support any hike above 10 percent. In its place, Councilman W. Wilson Goode introduced a bill for a 9 percent property tax increase, but said he did not necessarily support it and was introducing it on behalf of Council leadership.

No one ended up signing the bill or requesting in writing that it be advertised for a public hearing, Green said, rules that must be followed for a bill to be valid, Green said.

Councilman James F. Kenney questioned what Green -- who wants a property tax hike of no more than 5 percent, combined with further cuts -- hoped to accomplish.

"It's a dangerous game and a dangerous record he's creating for someone to sue," to prevent the property taxes from being collected, Kenney said. "The end game of this is we don't get the revenue we need and we have 2,000 people laid off."

Council broke for a recess at 11:45 a.m. Budget negotiations are expected to continue throughout the day. When they are finished, Council had planned to hold a public hearing, then return for a first reading of the budget bills. The budget must be passed by the end of May. By getting a first reading today, Council can pass the budget next Thursday and avoid having a meeting on May 27, which Council is in the habit of taking off as part of the Memorial Day holiday.

If his fellow Council members agree with Green, the process could be delayed a week.


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