The city council today insisted the mayor's office rewrite the budget reflecting the new numbers, and if that doesn't happen, Council President Carole Smitherman says that the council is prepared to do the work itself.
Doug Turner, a consultant hired by the city council, directly challenged Finance Director Steve Sayler on the numbers used to prepare the budget. Under questioning, Sayler admitted that the city's more recent reports show Birmingham $17 million less than last year's projections, although he questioned the soundness of the figures.
The figures come from the city's own accounting system, which reports real-time numbers. However, there are still some accounts outstanding, he said. According to Sayler, the city will not know its true year-end balance until after an audit which will be complete in December.
The city's fiscal year runs from July 1 to June 30. By law the city council and mayor are supposed to have a budget complete and passed by June 30, but currently both sides are at an impasse. Until a new budget passes, the city will operate under the fiscal 2009 budget.
At the budget hearing Monday afternoon, the council voted to send the budget back to the mayor's office to be redone with the more current figures. Also, the council insisted that the city preserve a fund balance of at least three months operating expenditures, about $104 million. Fund balance is the technical term for the city's savings.
Sayler questioned the policy to preserve a fund balance, and the Langford administration has been frustrated with it since taking office in November 2007.
Before coming to the City of Birmingham, Sayler served as Finance Director for Jefferson County, which now teeters on the brink of bankruptcy.