JAMES ISLAND -- New Mayor Bill Woolsey is proposing a town budget that cuts some spending, including his own salary, and slashes funding for 150th anniversary Civil War events while putting more money into ditch and dirt-road maintenance.
Woolsey, who on Tuesday chaired the first Town Council meeting of the four-year-term he was elected to Aug. 3, said budget preparation has been complicated by $164,000 in "pre-payments" he said the previous administration made during the past few months.
The town's fiscal year ended in June without a new budget agreement by council, but then-Mayor Mary Clark's administration continued issuing checks, Woolsey said.
Woosley distributed a proposed 2010/2011 town budget of just over $2 million, compared with last year's budget of about $3 million. Woosley said the town ended last year in a deficit.
Councilwoman Robin Welch proposed changes to council rules to allow council members to more easily get items on the agenda, and Woolsey said he will support the changes.
Woolsey had composed a new budget, which included a revenue projection of $1.5 million and which borrows $500,000 from the town's cash reserve, and had placed a vote on first-reading approval on the meeting agenda.
But after discussions, Woosley and council decided to extend budget preparations. Council agreed to hold a budget workshop Sept. 15 and slate a first-reading for the Sept. 21 council meeting.
"In early October we will finally have a budget for the new year," Woolsey said.
Woolsey proposed cutting the mayor's salary from the current $35,000 to $20,000 and reducing the mayor's contingency fund from $72,000 to $10,000. He proposed putting more than half a million dollars into ditch and dirt-road maintenance.
He called for substantially cutting funding that the previous council had approved for the Sesquicentennial observance, which was to include a series of informative and educational forums and events, including re-enactments of key events leading up to and occurring in the War Between the States.
Woolsey said the town already has spent $88,000 on battle re-enactment and related events, and had obligated itself to more funding. He said he would like to cancel the planned new spending and see if the town can get back any of what has been spent.
Woolsey said he would like to see if the historic events still can be memorialized without a huge town investment.
He said the town invested $30,000 in a film already in production, and the town had obligated itself to $40,000 more. "We won't be spending the money and the film won't be produced," Woolsey declared.
Another $16,000 has been spent to prepare a book on the Sesquicentennial. "We hope to get some of our money back, and we may have some boxes of books that we might want to sell," he added.
Among "pre-payments" that Woolsey said were made during the summer, and without council oversight he said should have taken place, were for engineering and janitorial services, for the town planning consultant, and the GIS mapping services for which Clark's son, Julian Clark, received a controversial $49,000 contract.
Asked if the town got the maps and charts that the younger Clark's contract called for, Woolsey said the town did not.
"Julian was paid for 100 percent of the contract but did only about 40 percent of the work," Woolsey said.