CITY COUNCIL UPDATE: Sparks fly over council member's commentThe most heated debate at Monday’s Alexandria City Council meeting took place during the “old and other business” part of the meeting when council member Virgil Batesole questioned how effective the city’s budget committee will be this summer and fall.
By: Al Edenloff, Alexandria Echo Press
The most heated debate at Monday’s Alexandria City Council meeting took place during the “old and other business” part of the meeting when council member Virgil Batesole questioned how effective the city’s budget committee will be this summer and fall.
This year’s committee, which makes budget recommendations to the full council, includes Mayor Dan Ness, council member Elroy Frank and City Administrator Jim Taddei. Batesole said he hoped he wasn’t being unethical but he had concerns about Ness because he wasn’t seeking reelection and about Frank being a “lame duck” because he’ll be up for election.
Because of that, Batesole said the committee may not feel “responsible” to put together a good budget.
His comments immediately touched off an angry wave of emotions from the rest of the council.
Frank asked how Batesole could call him a lame duck and noted that Batesole refused to serve on the budget committee. When Batesole tried to deny saying that he didn’t want to be on the budget committee, Sara Carlson and Dave Benson both jumped into the conversation and said that’s what Batesole had said.
Mayor Dan Ness noted that the budget committee only makes recommendations and that the final budget authority rests with the council. He told Batesole that if he thought the budget committee members were not fit to serve or should be replaced, Batesole should make a motion to do so.
Batesole said that he thinks the whole council should serve on the budget committee.
Ness said that having all the council members on the budget committee runs contrary to the city’s charter, the legal document that spells out the city rules, which Batesole often quotes at meetings.
When Batesole continued to try and justify his concerns about the budget committee, Frank only got angrier. “You continue to make it argumentative and I think that’s a lot of bull,” Frank told him.
Carlson agreed, calling Batesole’s comments “ridiculous.”
Batesole ended the discussion by saying that he had no problem with the budget committee as long as the council “does its job thoroughly.”
“I stated my piece,” Batesole said.
Another big item on the agenda was whether the city should help fund a study that would determine the benefits of building an event center in Alexandria, possibly through expanding the Runestone Community Center.
Check the Echo Press website and Friday’s newspaper for details on this and other council topics, including a city audit, decertifying a tax increment financing district for Cabinets by Carter, calling for bids on an electrical distribution systems upgrade, calling for bids on improving two city parking lots on the east side of the downtown area, restriping 2nd Avenue to improve parking, restricting parking along Jefferson Street by Washington Square and extending the city’s franchise agreement with Charter Communications.