I want to address the recent claims made by the opposition regarding my awareness of the Mayor's negotiation of a new contract with the Sheriff. It's important to provide clarity and context to the situation.
Firstly, I appreciate the concerns raised, but it's essential to set the record straight. The opposition argues that I should have been aware of these negotiations because it occurs annually, and this is my fourth year on the City Council. However, it's crucial to emphasize that not all negotiations are created equal.
In our city, the City Council members engage in discussions and negotiations regarding the allocation of funds for the annual budget. These discussions shape the budget, and I take my role in these deliberations seriously.
The finalized budget, which explicitly did not include funding for additional police officers, placed limitations on Mayor Pierce. Therefore, it was entirely reasonable for me to be unaware of any negotiations for something that was not included in the budget. Why would I think otherwise? It was NOT in the budget, and Mayor Pierce had NOT requested the council to find funds to hire new officers.
I firmly believe in transparency and accountability in the decision-making process. If Mayor Pierce intended to pursue hiring new officers outside of the budgetary constraints, it would have been necessary for him to bring this matter back to the City Council for approval. Changes to the budget require council approval, and that's the process that should have been followed.
Furthermore, it's important to note that while the Capital Plan may have provisions for contingencies within the budget, these funds typically come from the emergency reserve, as seen in the $506,000 shortfall in the police contract, which was an unforeseen contingency. Contingency allocations are not part of regular negotiations but are reserved for exceptional circumstances.
In conclusion, I want to reaffirm my support for our police force and our community. I voted against the finalized budget because it did not provide for hiring officers, and I stand by my decision. Mayor Pierce's attempt to turn this into a "contingency" issue seems like a "hail Mary" move due to the pressure from my campaign. I believe in responsible governance and ensuring that all decisions are made with the best interests of our community in mind.
Thank you for your understanding, and I am committed to continuing to work diligently on your behalf as a dedicated public servant.