MAYVILLE - Some of the discussions lawmakers have had during the first two days of budget review are taking their eyes away from the bottom line, according to John Runkle, R-Stockton.
"We're going other directions," he said Tuesday - adding that the focus of this week's efforts should be to control costs.
Runkle is a member of both the legislature's Administrative Services Committee and the Audit and Control Committee. Throughout the day Tuesday, both committees met with county officials about their respective departments' tentative 2012 budgets.
County Executive Greg Edwards reviews his proposed executive budget with county legislators in Mayville on Tuesday.
P-J photo by Nicholas L. Dean
Runkle repeated himself throughout the day, asking all of the department heads the same question - What can be done to further cut the cost of government?
At one point in the afternoon, Runkle said he was disappointed in some of the discussions which had happened Monday and Tuesday.
"I apologize for my rudeness," he said. "We're going other directions than we should be going, and that should be to control costs."
Following the completion of Tuesday's meetings, Runkle told The Post-Journal that he feels the focus of the legislature's budget review should be the proposed budget and all it entails.
"These budget meetings should be confined to budgets and what we're going to do with next year's issues," Runkle said.
His comments during the meeting came after legislators had a lengthy conversation with County Attorney Steve Abdella. The committee members questioned things such as whether Abdella felt he was "serving two masters" in working for both the county executive and the legislature. The lawmakers also discussed how there is no funding in the legislature's budget for outside counsel, only what is paid to Abdella's office for legal advice.
A LEAN BUDGET
Majority Leader Larry Barmore, R-Gerry, believes the tentative 2012 budget is already quite lean.
Barmore is chairman of the Administrative Services Committee, which met Tuesday with Audit and Control to question various department heads about their budgets.
"The biggest thing that we face is that the county executive has done his job and he has put out a really lean, lean budget," Barmore said. "Some legislators feel that it's their duty, no matter how lean the budget is, to make more cuts - otherwise people perceive it as they're not doing anything.
"But our job," Barmore continued, "is also to make sure that things aren't cut that shouldn't be cut, to overview what the county executive has done and to make sure that he's doing a proper job. I don't base our success on whether we've made additional cuts or haven't made additional cuts. It's whether we understand what's going on and are making sure that the county executive has done what he is charged to do by the people of the county."