Mayor Sandy Stimpson said he’d veto a City Council-approved amendment to the fiscal year 2015 budget that would fund retirees’ health care costs, if he and the council can’t compromise on where the money could come from.
The council on Tuesday voted 6-1 to move $2.5 million from the capital budget to the general fund, in order to cover the cost of health insurance for Medicare-eligible retirees. Stimpson said Friday that the money would’ve been set aside for vehicles for the Mobile Police and Mobile Fire-Rescue departments and he wasn’t comfortable taking the money out of public safety.
“To take money away of this magnitude is the wrong thing to do,” Stimpson said. “It’s not a part of the budget that you want to play politics with.”
Stimpson went on to explain that he doesn’t think all of the councilors knew where the money was coming from when the amendment passed.
The mayor has until next Friday to veto the amendment.
Stimpson said he acknowledges that councilors were just trying to fund “what is broken” in the city when they voted to extend the one-cent sales tax to 2018, instead of taking his recommendation and extending it two months. He said he doesn’t think they “recognized the blowback from the public.”
The issue should be discussed moving forward, he said, but the public should have input if the tax is going to be extended for any number of years. In addition, he said the city needs to look at tax reform.
As for the additional $800,000 taken from the capital fund and put toward funding for non-profits, Stimpson said the administration would see that the organizations were funded.
The mayor said he was “surprised” and “dismayed” by an amendment to support a county soccer complex with $1.5 million from a fund set aside for city park improvements.
Although, he questioned the city’s funding of a project that the “county hasn’t agreed to fund” yet.
“It would be nice to have the project, but it’s a time issue in my mind,” he said.