City Council at odds over transfer of funds

June 29, 2010
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Have you watched the city council on cable television?

It’s a great show, sometimes.

Last week, I watched the councilors spar with the city’s chief financial officer and the mayor over the transfer from the overlay account of about $380,000 to pay a court judgment due to the local police union for something or other they were deprived of.

What it was doesn’t really matter.

What mattered was the debate, which was, at time very, very good – and the answers provided, which were also very good, at times.

Councillor at Large Dan Cahill went on and on about how he felt the payment of the judgment out of anything other than cash on hand funds constituted a payment that is more like a loan.

Cahill cuts a nice figure on television – thoughtful, young, speaking assertively and he’s a lawyer so many people tend to think he really knows what he’s talking about – and he does.

However, I thought the mayor, who also spoke on the matter, did a pretty good job of defending her stance, which was to take the money from anything but free cash and wait for the money to be made up later through larger state reimbursements, tax collections, fines, tickets and however the city makes more money.

She was articulate and informed. She even made good sense about using other money the city is holding rather than to use cash in the reserve account or from day to funds in the city checking account, as cash is king.

Cahill made the point, decisively, that if the money was taken from the overlay account, which constitutes a form of loan, and no more money came into the city coffers, that taxes would have to be raised in order to pay the bill.

The city’s financial officer and the mayor tended to believe that this could not happen.

Not Cahill.

Not only does he believe it might happen – with news of the state cutting 4% of its revenues to the cities and towns next year, this city is already down 4% before borrowing the money to pay for this judgment.

It is just a bit eerie watching the Lynn City Council on television.

The council hasn’t yet learned how to command the audience and how to play to an audience.

Once they do, there will be longer meetings and more arguments.

I’d like to hear one of the councilors or any of the councilors and the mayor say that taxes must be cut or the city faces financial ruin.

I’d like to hear that just once on a televised council meeting.

But no one in a position of leadership here wants to cut taxes. They simply want to fund all present expenses and to consider that a victory.

There will be no victories until the city employee health insurance albatross is dealt with.

There will be no victories until contracts and their provisions relate to the condition of the economy.

And pension reform must advance.

City expenses are dragging down the city.

But the last thing you here about on television from the city council is about cutting taxes.

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