Councilman Bill Bryan targeted Hobgood’s proposed $93,942 budget designated for his office and administrative assistant during a called meeting Thursday to review the proposed fiscal year 2013 budget.
The council will consider the first reading of the proposed $31 million overall budget during its Aug. 2 work session and could approve the budget during its Aug. 16 meeting.
The proposed budget, down from the present $33 million budget, will not include any millage rate increases for Canton residents.
“I think we need to reduce this,” Bryan said, adding he thinks the city can “whack” about $80,000 from the mayor’s budget. “I just don’t see the justification of all this money being spent down there.”
Bryan said he would propose the city slash the mayor’s budget to $13,500, which he said would save the city about $80,000 per year.
Hobgood’s proposed budget is slightly higher than his current fiscal year 2012 budget of $93,438 and the fiscal year 2011 budget of $88,128.
However, the mayor said he’s cut his allotted budget considerably since he’s been in office.
Hobgood also said Bryan was “vengeful” and was a lame-duck politician striking out. Bryan has said he doesn’t plan to run for re-election.
“He’s way off base and I think it was very evident by the lack of response he got from council members,” he said.
Hobgood’s budget includes his personal assistant, Trish Fowler, who is paid $51,984. While Hobgood hired Main Street Director Ginger Garrard, her salary, benefits and other expenses are not calculated in the mayor’s budget.
Hobgood said Fowler has “many years of governmental experience as administrative assistant and as a county clerk.”
Other council members were lukewarm to Bryan’s request, but Councilman Hooky Huffman said he would consider the change if that would mean reallocating money to help the city when it came to enhancing its economic development tools.
Bryan later said the mayor’s large budget “is a dinosaur left over” from former Mayor Cecil Pruett.
Councilman Glen Cummins said he was fine with the mayor’s budget.
“The need is there and it’s been demonstrated,” he added.
On Friday, Hobgood said he spends up to 30 hours per week on city-related issues and his role as mayor commands he has full knowledge about city operations.
“When something happens, they call the mayor,” he said. “They expect the mayor to know everything about the city and that’s not necessarily true with the council members.”