SNELLVILLE -- Mayor Kelly Kautz's proposed budget died and a motion for an amended budget was called to a vote.
Then Friday's Snellville city council meeting actually started.
Then it happened again.
A 4-2 vote pushed through an amended budget proposed by Mayor Pro Tem Tom Witts, one that does not include a $426,022 budget line for road projects through the Livable Centers Initiative. The LCI project -- streetscaping and on-road parking in the city's downtown area, already in progress and partially funded by federal grants -- was the crux of debate among the mayor and council and the primary difference between Witts' $9.61 million budget and that proposed by Kautz.
Kautz called the project's non-inclusion, and the budget in general, "sloppy," "a mess" and "unprofessional."
"If we know we're going to incur an expense, you have to budget for it," she said. "You can't just decide, 'Oh, I don't want people to see that right now, we'll put it in later.'"
Witts said it was not included in the budget because he didn't believe it should be factored into tax calculations. He said it should be handled with money received following the service delivery dispute with the county.
"I don't feel that's something we should be taxing our people for," Witts said. Councilmen Bobby Howard and Dave Emanuel voiced their support.
Jan Burke, the city's controller, did not support Witts' budget. She called the omission of the LCI project -- as well as $16,900 for gazebo repairs at Briscoe Park -- a "material misstatement."
"Those are material expenses," she said. "They have to be budgeted. We obviously are going forward with those projects."
The budget passed despite the "no" votes of Kautz and Councilman Mike Sabbagh.
All that happened after the council members, minus Sabbagh, "tried to pull a fast one," in Kautz's words.
Witts, the mayor pro tem, called Friday's meeting to order at precisely 7 p.m., without Kautz or Sabbagh present. The present council quickly let Kautz's proposed budget die by not offering a motion. By the time Kautz entered chambers at 7:03 p.m., Witts was in the process of calling for a vote on his own budget.
When Sabbagh entered at about 7:05 p.m., Kautz and Witts were in the middle of an argument over his authority to begin a meeting without her present. It was determined that a vote of the council must be taken in order for the mayor pro tem to do so -- no vote had been taken.
"I was in my office, I was here," Kautz said. "We had city manager interviews earlier today and I was running late. I'm very disappointed in council. Not only were they trying to be deceitful with the budget, but they were trying to pull a fast one and do the meeting before we were here."
The budget passed, Kautz said she would "reassess" things when City Attorney Tony Powell was present next week.
Witts passed out printed statements following Friday's meeting, calling the new budget one he was "proud of." The statement issued said the budget would reduce property taxes by a total of $530,000, while Kautz' proposal did so by only $225,000.
"I'm proud of all the time and effort spent by the members of council in conjuction with our city staff that resulted in a good budget and tax relief to our property owners," Witts said.