Walczyk Speaks Out About 'Hoarding' Of City FundsPosted: Updated:
In December Watertown City Council Member Mark Walczyk had a chance to vote in favor of spending some of the city's savings on several projects, but he was the only one who voted not to. Then this week Walczyk tweeted that the city was hoarding that money. So why the change?
He says he voted against using savings from the city's fund balance in December because he thought the two new city council members, who were taking their seats in the next month, should have a say in how that money was used.
"Let's let the new council come in and set the priorities for this budget year, instead of the old council setting those priorities," said Walczyk.
In that vote, the rest of city council passed a resolution choosing to spend $465,000 of savings on several city projects.
That was money the city had originally planned to borrow.
"It wasn't specifically about spending some of the cash. I think that when you have the cash, spend it rather than borrow, that just makes common sense," said Walczyk.
That's how Walczyk reconciles his no vote in December with this week's tweet where he called out city management for "hoarding" tax payer money in the fund balance.
The city has about $11 million in its savings account.
Walczyk says $8 million to $9 million is an appropriate amount to have tucked away.
That would be about 19 or 20 percent of the city's budget. City management likes to keep it at 20 to 25 percent.
"25 percent of your budget is too much. If you give the city of Watertown $4, they stick one of those dollars in their pocket and they just sit on it. That dollar needs to be returned," said Walczyk.
City leaders say they have reason to keep a healthy savings account. According to City Comptroller Jim Mills, two of Watertown's main revenue streams are the sale of hydroelectric power and sales tax. Both are highly unpredictable.
For council members, any argument over how to use the fund balance won't be a black and white one.