ANDERSON — The City Council may have violated Department of Local Government Guidelines (DLGF), rules on Thursday when it delayed a scheduled public hearing on Mayor Kevin Smith’s proposed budget for fiscal 2014, and failed to set another hearing during the meeting.
According to Indiana law, proposed budgets and property tax levies for cities, towns and townships must be advertised before Sept. 14, and again before Sept. 21, of each year. The date of public hearings must be included in that legal advertisement.
The city initially met that requirement, but the City Council may have inadvertently violated the rule through its action on Thursday.
A new public hearing date was set on Friday, however, and published as a legal advertisement in The Herald Bulletin on Saturday.
The question is how persnickety DLGF officials will be as they interpret the rules.
Smith’s take on the matter, after city legal and financial experts spent Monday wrestling with the issue, is that the 2014 budget could be in jeopardy, and Anderson might be forced to adopt a budget for next year based on 2013 revenue and budget figures.
That possibility is “directly related to the council not following Indiana state budget guidelines,” Smith said. The City Council “had to have a public hearing by state law. For some reason, I have no idea why, they did not do that, which could jeopardize the 2014 budget.”
Council President David Eicks, D-at large, who urged delay of budget talks because of concern about public safety spending and other aspects of the mayor’s proposed spending plan, was surprised by the potential hiccup.
“It seems very odd to me that those actions (by the City Council), would make it revert to the 2013 budget,” Eicks said, adding “I don’t see any reasons to change plans that are set at this point.”