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21 October 2013

As Dysfunctional As D.C., City of East Point Fails to Pass a Budget on Time

The primary role of any legislative body is to pass a budget.

Without a budget in place, appropriating funds to the various governmental agencies, the department heads have no idea how much money they can spend towards fulfilling the responsibilities of their respective agencies; and it creates dysfunction.

On 23 March 2013, The Hill reported that United States Senators passed its first budget in four years [Wasson, Erik (23 March 2013). Senate passes first budget in four years. The Hill. Retrieved on 21 October 2013]. Yet, the House and Senate could not negotiate a final budget compromise, resulting in a partial government shutdown, while also illustrating how dysfunctional government has become in Washington, D.C.

Back here in Georgia, some of that patented D.C. dysfunction is taking root in a local municipality.

The City of East Point, located in south Fulton County, is three months past the deadline to pass a budget for Fiscal Year 2014 (FY2014).

A fiscal year is defined as a 12-month period in which an organization plans the use of its funds. A fiscal year may coincide with the calendar year, but the general practice is to have the fiscal year run on a separate 12-month period than the calendar year. The fiscal year for the City of East Point begins on 1 July and ends 30 June each year.

East Point City Council members first considered the municipality's FY2014 budget at a special called meeting, 10 June 2013. No budget was passed. Then, on the start of FY2014, East Point City Council members held a public hearing on the budget. Again, no budget was passed. More than three months have lapsed without the City of East Point passing a budget.

The various East Point municipal government agency heads are spending money based upon funding levels from the previous fiscal year. That has the potential to create a financial mess for the city, if revenues for FY2014 fall below FY2013 numbers.

According to public meeting notices, the East Point City Council will hold another hearing on the delayed FY2014 budget, 21 October 2013 at 6:30PM. No action is expected to be taken on the appropriations bill at this meeting.

With East Point municipal elections just over two weeks away, it's questionable whether the incumbent mayor and city council members will pass a budget before voters head to the polls. If that's the case, voters angry at East Point elected officials failing to pass a budget could result in an anti-incumbent wave sweeping challengers into office.