Emotions run high as FY2017 budget passes

Emotions run high as FY2017 budget passes

The Board of Commissioners officially adopted their Fiscal Year 2017 budget Thursday night, but not without a bit of controversy.
The budget totaling $93,881,926 was passed 4-1, Steve Brown voting against. Saying he disagreed with the budget’s fundamentals, Brown read a prepared statement laying out his opposition.
“I believe we should review our strategy on fund balance and that we need to increase our focus on measuring performance to determine what has been accomplished with scarce government resources and then budget accordingly,” Brown said, noting that Water System Director Lee Pope, in particular, should be rewarded with a pay increase for the “extraordinary” turnaround of the system.
Brown also questioned whether or not enough is being done to prepare for an uncertain future with increased development likely on the horizon.
“Our budgeting should have a long-range perspective, but I feel as though this preparation reflects a ‘one year at a time’ approach.”
His comments were met with swift opposition.
“One of the things that concerns me, as the county manager, is when I hear comments that we don’t think long-term, that we’re just balancing the budget from one year to the next. That is 100 percent, absolutely false,” said County Manager Steve Rapson, noting that they have produced four balanced budgets over the last four years, despite difficult economic challenges. He agreed that Pope had done a great job, but was not the only one, and it would be unfair to single him out for a raise. “I can assure you that I have other directors that are just as outstanding that have taken their departments to a different level compared to where we were four years ago.”
The at-time contentious relationship between Brown and Commissioner David Barlow again bubbled to the surface.
“It’s difficult for me to sit here and listen to Commissioner Brown create controversy like he is prone to do,” said Barlow, referring to Brown’s online blogging. “That’s what he does. He goes back in and backstabs everyone with his comments.”
Barlow promised to be a thorn in Brown’s side as long as they sit on the commission together.
“Sadly I didn’t get reelected because I would love to sit here and browbeat him for the next two-and-a-half years,” said Barlow, referring to Brown saying previously he would only run for two terms. “He’s got two-and-a-half more years to get up on his soapbox and create controversy, and I for one am getting tired of it.”
Commissioner Charles Rousseau had asked for the vote to include a pay in class study that would compare the salaries of county staff to comparable other areas, but did not get a second for his proposal.

Christopher Dunn

Managing Editor Christopher Dunn has been with the Fayette County News since 2011, in addition to running Fayette Victory magazine. He is a graduate of Fayette County schools, as well as a graduate of Georgia State University with a degree in journalism. Follow him on twitter @fayettesports.