City Budget Director Beth Goldberg
Mayor Mike McGinn called me this morning to complain about remarks by council member Richard Conlin during the council's budget committee meeting yesterday, where city budget director Beth Goldberg (pictured) briefed the council on a $15 million midyear budget shortfall.
As we reported in Morning Fizz, Conlin told Goldberg that the mayor's claim on KUOW earlier that morning that the council had failed to "pass a balanced budget" was "not helpful," adding, "I would encourage the budget director to help him understand the budget situation.”
McGinn was referring to the fact that the council is having to adjust its budget in the middle of the year, which council members noted is actually a fairly common occurrence.
In response, McGinn—barely audible over the soothing voice of the light rail announcer ("Now entering Columbia City station. Doors to my right") in the background—said "the budget that passed out of council last year was approximately$ 15 million short and I understand that just fine. I don’t know that they understand that. They thought they passed a balanced budget but it’s now approximately $15 million out of balance .. and now we’re working to fix it."
McGinn has been increasingly combative with the council lately, opposing them on everything from the design of a new 520 bridge (McGinn wants to delay the project to study light rail; the council wants to move forward now), to the panhandling ordinance (the council approved it, but McGinn has vowed to veto the bill) to the seawall ballot measure (he wanted it on the ballot in May; the council shelved it).
The budget is just the latest in a long string of mayor-council standoffs the likes of which we haven't seen since the early days of the Nickels administration.