When Mayor James Baker presented his budget to City Council earlier this year, he promised to fight council members over it if that’s what they wanted, and now that battle is on.
The stalemate surrounds Baker’s proposed alternative budget, a new version of the spending plan he originally proposed in March that City Council would not support. Earlier this week Baker pitched a plan that included a reduced property tax increase to members of the Council Finance Committee. Last night, city lawmakers approved a budget drawn up by Council President Norman Griffiths and Councilman Charles “Bud” Freel.
Baker says the budget approved by council will reduce “vital city services” and force more city employees out of their jobs. “Some Council members could not see fit to compromise,” Baker said in a statement. “We’ll eventually get to a budget, but first, I’ll veto this one and we’ll see where we go from here.”
The contentious relationship between Baker and Council shows no sign of waning. Baker, who is in the final years of his three-terms in office, went on the offensive earlier this year during his budget address before Council. At that time, he said, “This tension between Council and adversarial issues between Council and the administration has to stop. And I’m willing to stop, but I’ll fight you tooth and nail if you want. Doesn’t matter to me. Either you make peace or you don’t.” Baker went away from his prepared remarks and warned of war with Council for the remainder of his term if they didn’t work with his administration. “You want to have war for 600 more days fine. We will have it, and you will have it beyond the 600 days when I’m finished. You can shake your head, I’m just telling you.”