By Crystal McGough
The Pinson City Council voted 4-1 last Thursday against a motion made by Councilman Shane Shelnutt concerning city expenses.
Shelnutt made the motion that “any motion containing a financial liability to the city…must contain the dollar amount to be incurred, which account…funds will come out of, (and that) the mayor or Financial Committee Chair must certify that the named account has the funds to cover the expenditure.”
“(This is) just something to let the public know, as we do the motions, what the cost is to the city,” Shelnutt said.
Shelnutt offered the same motion at the June 21 council meeting. The motion failed at that time due to lack of a second.
Thursday night, Councilwoman Joy McCain seconded the motion. She did not vote in favor of the motion, however
“I seconded it because I wanted to hear if any other councilor had anything to say about his motion,” McCain said. “This did not mean that I was for it. Some people were thinking we had something to hide, but to me, this way we could say why we thought we should or shouldn’t do this motion on the expenses.”
McCain said that, at this time, citizens can come by City Hall to look at the city’s finances and that the city plans to have the information available electronically in the future.
“Of course, you have to understand what you are looking at and how it applies to each situation before stating your views to everyone in a derogatory way and causing unnecessary concern,” she said. “All councilors are given the agenda for each meeting well in advance so we can do our ‘homework’ and check into anything that we will be voting on. We can see what is in each account and where the money for something will be taken. If we have questions, we have plenty of time to research before voting.”
Mayor Hoyt Sanders said that the motion was not necessary because the financial balances are shown on the bill schedule and that any expenses can be compared against on-hand balances.
“As a general rule, when we make motions that concern financial obligations other than general…we do specify what accounts they come out of,” Councilman Joe Cochran said. “There may be an instance where we didn’t, I don’t know, but I think overall when we’re saying, ‘Well, this money will come out of Roads and Streets (fund), we list that. We talk about it. Another thing is, when we come to the meeting, we have a balance sheet. When we do the bills, it tells us how much money is in each account. It’s fairly easy to reason.”
Shelnutt said that he previously presented the council with 17 incidents in the last year where the information in the motion was not provided.
“A truly transparent government is proactive in telling the taxpayers how and where their money is being spent,” he said. “The only comment made during the discussion about the simple motion was, ‘We are already doing this most of the time.’ If that is true, which it is not, why not go ahead to make it 100 percent of the time instead of ‘most of the time’?”