The Enid News and Eagle, Enid, OK

Opinion

June 19, 2013

New city commissioners provide more scrutiny, input

Enid city officials are hoping the second time’s a charm for approving a sprawling $173.47 million budget to fund every facet of its operations through June 2014.

Due to a parliamentary miscue, members of the Enid City Commission must meet again bright and early on the budget. Their penance is a makeup vote, scheduled for 7 a.m. Tuesday.

The city charter requires no fewer than five affirmative votes to adopt the budget’s emergency clause — that would have put it into effect July 1. Because Commissioner Mike Stuber was absent from Tuesday’s meeting, and because of two dissenting votes, the emergency clause only gained four votes.

Commissioners Rodney Timm and David Vanhooser voted against the proposals, citing fiscal conservatism issues with predicting growth in the Enid’s revenues.

An Enid News & Eagle reporter questioned whether the emergency test actually passed. Upon review of the city’s governing documents, staff confirmed a makeup vote is needed to avoid waiting the full 30 days before implementation.

Interestingly, we noticed more scrutiny and input from the new commissioners. Instead of going along for the ride as a rubber stamp, a routinely unanimous vote became anything but automatic.

City Manager Eric Benson, in supporting the budget, praised the debate between the commissioners. At one point, he called it “invigorating” and said the analysis “raised our game.”

The makeup vote underscores the importance of municipal government and provides an invaluable civics lesson to the citizenry.

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