By March, they were scratching for much smaller sums of money to pay for public transportation. In a recent Weaver City Council meeting, council members voted 5-1 to discontinue public transportation for the city’s disabled residents because the municipality underbudgeted for the service by $3,000.
Officials said the service costs the city about $13,000 annually, which is $3,000 more than the $10,000 the city budgeted for the expense. The dissenting voter, Councilman Michael Warren, said he thought the city could come up with the funding.
“When you break it down, even at $13,000 you’re just talking a little over $1,000 a month,” Warren said.
It’s not the only budgeted item that won’t be attended to this year. The city has also eliminated plans to move forward with the playground this year, Warren said.
It remains unclear why the city’s financial standing has declined since the fall. The Star’s attempts over the past month to get copies of the city’s financial statements, the budget, expenditures and revenues have been unsuccessful.
Requests for basic city financial information have been repeatedly delayed by city officials.
Some city officials said that their staff is too small to accommodate the request. City Clerk Teresa Dishman said in an email Wednesday that she would provide the information as soon as possible.
Dishman said she was too busy to provide the documents this week because she is preparing for a Tuesday council meeting and because she is helping the city change banks.
Repeated attempts to reach Mayor Garry Bearden by phone were unsuccessful, though he did say in an email that his city staff was too busy to honor the request for a copy of the city’s budget.
Warren said he doubted the officials who said they were too busy to produce the documents. According to Warren, the city’s financial information is stored on a computer and can be easily retrieved.
Alabama law states that records are considered public unless they are specifically exempt from the Alabama Open Records Act.
During recent meetings Bearden said the city’s financial standing was in jeopardy. According to Warren, the mayor said at the last meeting that the city was not in bad financial standing and he didn’t know why people thought the municipality was struggling.
“We told him that it was coming from him,” Warren said. The councilman also said that the mayor didn’t give a reason for his reversal on the matter.
Warren said he thought the mayor may have become concerned about the financial standing of the city because some revenue was down. According to Warren, the city has not received as much money from utility taxes this year.
Star staff writer Laura Johnson: 256-235-3544. On Twitter @LJohnson_Star.