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Councilmen express frustration with budget

New members of the Richmond City Council have taken some criticism during their first two months for "micro managing" from city staff. Despite the criticism, they're still pressing forward.
The most notably upset last night was Councilman Bob Bond. Bond took exception to comments from city staff about an ordinance the city is considering that would limit the staff's ability to apply for grants. Bond said he wished City Administrator Rick Childers was present last night to send him the message.
"In my view it is not micromanagement at all," Bond said. "To me it's a courtesy to let the council know what's ahead in future obligations. It is an effective measurement tool to gauge what additional monies that might impact the current budget."
Bond then addressed the council about being criticized for not hiring additional police officers. Bond said he researched the Missouri Municipal League's benefits book from 1999 that shows Richmond operated with nine police officers. He pointed out that the city's population was higher then, than it is now.
"It may be in the budget, but we don't have to spend every dime in the budget," Bond said in a forceful tone. "This is 10 years later and the population has decreased. It's something to think about. Not to say it's good or bad but that's what it was."
Bond said giving the council little time to decide to approve a grant is an unfair ultimatum. He said most grants have a three to six month time frame before they are due.
"Next year you'll know when that grant's due," Bond said. "It's not enough time. I don't want to be placed under pressure to decide something in five minutes without knowing the full ramifications of what it's going to cost. We meet twice a month and that's enough time."
Councilmen Roger Kepple, Dave Powell, Mike Wright and Terrie Stanley agreed with Bond. Kepple said if something's wrong with the city's finances, they are the ones legally responsible.
"It's not micromanaging, it's only managing the funds and the affairs of the city," Kepple said. "A lot of these grants at some point in time you've got to pay the fiddler."
Some councilmen brought up the issue of transferring funds. Powell said he brought the issue up Monday night but was given the answer that the money is there but not recorded. Powell said he investigated the purchase of the city cemetery with water funds and found major discrepancies between numbers recorded at the County Courthouse and the city's books.
"That's the problem. There is no audit trail," Stanley said. "Shouldn't that at all times be recorded?"
"We need a paper trail of these transfers, otherwise it can get washed out," Kepple added.

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