Rescinded: Smyrna mayor changes mind on budget veto
by Rachel Gray
June 08, 2014 04:00 AM | 2064 views | 0 0 comments | 8 8 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Max Bacon
Max Bacon
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SMYRNA — After vetoing the Smyrna city budget Friday morning, Smyrna Mayor Max Bacon rescinded his veto late Friday afternoon.

Bacon said he talked with Eric Taylor, Smyrna’s city administrator, and worked out enough issues that he felt comfortable rescinding the veto.

“I went over it in detail with Eric Taylor and talked with Finance Director Toni Jo Howard and talked to several council members,” Bacon said. “I wanted to make sure there was not something I was missing or needed to change or add to the budget.”

Bacon missed the June 2 meeting when the budget was passed 4-3 by the city council. Andrea Blustein, Wade Lnenicka and Susan Wilkinson were the three council members to vote against the budget.

The mayor has four days from the time a vote is taken to veto. Since the budget passed June 2, Friday was Bacon’s last chance to veto the budget.

Bacon said he battled kidney stones all week. He intended to veto the budget Thursday, but wasn’t able to come into city hall. On Friday, Bacon signed the veto from his house before meeting with Taylor and Howard.

“There’s always items in the budget that people don’t like, but you have to compromise,” Bacon said. “I don’t think there was anything in the budget that meant it shouldn’t have been passed.”

Council members who voted against the budget said they did so because it included “wants rather than needs,” including $2,000 for a city hall decorator.

Bacon eliminated the city hall decorator funds before rescinding his veto.

Blustein was glad to hear the $2,000 for the decorator was removed, but wished the council had more time to talk about the budget.

“I wish I had felt more comfortable when the vote was taken.” she said. “I do feel better knowing that foolishness (concerning the decorator) is gone.”

Bacon did support a change to city staff organization detailed in the budget, despite major concerns from council members.

Lnenicka said he opposed a move putting Smyrna’s park rangers under the police department, rather than remaining under parks and recreation.

“There’s a different way you handle kids misbehaving in a park versus a traffic stop, where you walk to a vehicle and don’t know if that person will kill you or not,” Lnenicka said previously.

Bacon said he has no issue with park rangers being moved from parks and recreation to the police department.

“I think the rangers will be better supervised and better managed (by the police department),” Bacon said. “There were a lot of accusations about they’ll be out on the street doing this or that. They’ll be doing the same thing they do now, just under the supervision of the police chief.”

Bacon said the issue has been blown out of proportion.

“It’s not like a major, end-of-the-world thing. It’s leaving the policing to the police department,” Bacon said. “I don’t see that being any kind of issue at all.”

Bacon has been Smyrna’s mayor since 1985 and said he can’t remember ever missing a budget vote in the past. He added it is only the seventh or eighth time he has vetoed a bill.

“I’ve rescinded vetoes in the past after I felt I got the answer I was looking for,” Bacon said Thursday.

Attempts to reach Bacon were unsuccessful Friday. He said he was inaccessible due to pain from the kidney stones.

“I didn’t even turn my phone on for the most part. I didn’t answer any calls at all,” he said. “(If you have had kidney stones) I think you would understand why somebody cannot communicate at all. It’s like giving birth to a chainsaw.”

Bacon said he was feeling better Saturday and hoped he had passed the stones.

“If you find me in the road in the fetal position, you’ll know I haven’t passed it yet,” he said. “I’ve had it three times, and I’ll tell you, it’s unbelievable.”

The city’s fiscal 2015 budget will go into effect July 1. It holds the millage rate at 8.99 mills, where it has stood since 2008. One mill collects $1.86 million of revenue in Smyrna.

No services will be cut under the budget. Employees in January received raises of between 1 and 3 percent based on merit, according to Kevin Klosterboer, Smyrna’s budget manager, and the city will evaluate raises for next January once it begins property tax collections later this year.

The total budget balances revenues and expenses at $73.7 million, an increase of 6.5 percent or $4.5 million over the fiscal 2014 budget.

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