LIBERTY — Members of Liberty’s City Council took what the Mayor referred to as an “important first step” in securing the city’s financial stability for the years to come.
“This budget has been pored over, thought over and prayed over,” said Eric Boughman, Liberty mayor. “I feel that when folks one day look back in history, this day is going to be remembered. You can look right now at our city and see the changes that have been made and the positive things that have been done — unfortunately, that does not fit into our bank books. I believe this day in Liberty’s history — passing this budget — we are going to positively affect our bank books at City Hall.”
Boughman said he believes this budget will get the city back “into the black” for the first time since 2009.
In addition, Boughman stated the budget will allow the city to begin to operate with the intention of placing money in reserves — something he says the city has never done.
The Mayor largely credited City Administrator Shirley Hughes for helping to educate council on how to properly manage Liberty’s finances.
“The only thing we lose in this budget as a city, is curbside recycling,” said Boughman. “We do not lose anything else.”
Not one to mince words, Hughes cut straight to the point stating that while the budget was a good first step, Liberty still had a long way to go.
“What does the city want to be when it grows up?” she asked. “You have to start to look at things differently. Vision and goals, that’s what it’s all about. I see this as the first of many meetings for Liberty’s future.”
Hughes reiterated the city’s lack of reserve funding stating that a “perfect example” was Liberty’s infrastructure, referring to water and sewer lines that should have been replaced “years and years and years ago.”
In addition, she stated the city’s current comprehensive plan was in violation of state statutes and should have been updated “a number of years ago.”
“One of the greatest issues we all face in government is long term sustainability,” said Hughes. “Look at the budget, it’s a one year document. We finish it, we get through it and then we forget about ‘til until next year. What we don’t do is take a look at that budget and say ‘OK, this is for the next year, but what about the year after that?’ … We need to be thinking further out than one year.”
Hughes said another example of not planning ahead was the city accepting the Liberty Gymnasium, recently turned over by the County.
“This is not meant to bash anyone … but we have a gym now,” she said. “I’m not sure that we took the time to think about OK, now we have another building. What does that mean? Did we look at the costs? It has to be insured, we have to take care of it, there are utilities …”
Being aware of long term financial ramifications would be key in Liberty setting itself up for future financial stability, she said.
The budget unanimously passed.
Reach Kasie Strickland at 864-855-0355.