City of Pensacola facing financial challenges

Updated: Wednesday, September 4 2013, 05:53 PM CDT
City of Pensacola facing financial challenges story image
PENSACOLA   --  The city of Pensacola is facing some long and short-term financial challenges.
 Those challenges come into sharp focus when it comes time to carve out a new city budget.

It's a balancing act.
In Florida, state law requires than cities maintain a balanced budget -- and that often times means the mayor and the city council to work together to achieve that goal.
But that's a problem in Pensacola. There's some friction on both sides.

During last year's budget battles -- Mayor Ashton Hayward used his line item veto power to over ride the council.

Former councilwoman Maren Deweese filed a lawsuit -- calling the mayor's actions "illegal and a violation of the separation of powers and the charter".

A judge recently ruled that the mayor did act within his powers.
Current councilman Charles Bare takes issue with that decision -- he says the mayor is operating with both executive and legislative powers.

"He could substantially change the budget with that. He could take a million dollars out of the police department budget and put it in the mayor's budget. And that needs to go through council. That policy needs to change," says Pensacola city councilman Charles Bare.

"There has to be somebody who has to be able to say yes or no. You know how that goes. Otherwise There would be a big fight," says Pensacola resident Rick Nickels.

The proposed 2014 budget is down more than 28 million dollars from last year.
The 12 percent cut means that property taxes taxes will not go up for city residents like Rick Nickels.

"Well it means a lot, because I'm retired now you know, and so every little penny counts," says NIckels.

But the belt tightening also means that certain wants for citizens, council members and the mayor will have to be fought for.

"We have too many asks for the amount of revenues that we get. Which is not unusual in a city or any government," says Pensacola City Administrator Colleen Castille.

"Next to things from last year's budget I wrote wishful thinking, because there's no way we're ever going to be able to reach that amount in revenue. So I think there has been some cutting back, and some more realism to the budgets," says Bare.

There's still some work to be done, but the final budget has to be in and balanced by October first.City of Pensacola facing financial challenges
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