Dayton’s City Commissioners approve draft 2023 budget, youth get $1 million
Dayton’s City Commissioners put aside their differences to pass a tentative 2023 budget. Saturday afternoon, commissioners and Mayor Jeffrey Mims met in City Hall chambers amid a public audience of residents, city workers and business leaders.
City Manager Shelley Dickstein reviewed Dayton’s budget process. “The policy budget starts with key public processes,” Dickstein explained.
As she identified money assigned to different categories, Commissioner Darryl Fairchild pointed out the ten-point-one million dollars slated for golf does not equal youth programs. Commissioner Shenise Turner-Sloss also contended more money is needed to support firefighters, to increase the Human Relation Council staff as well as increase affordable housing.
For nearly two hours, the city manager said all commissioners had ample time to pose questions and state their funding priorities. But when Fairchild and Turner-Sloss challenged her, Dickstein admitted commissioners only have about a week.
“There are a small number of people around the table turning this thing out,” Dickstein said. “Part of it is as we do our back and forth with the departments, they’re also struggling with issues. Sometimes our timelines get slowed down.”
Commissioners then spiraled into heated exchanges as Commissioners Matt Joseph and Chris Shaw pushed to vote on the original budget draft. But Fairchild pushed back.
Darryl Fairchild: “Wednesday night you were willing to do anything, stay all night where is that commitment now?”
Matt Joseph: “We were willing to stay all night to hear your priorities. Now we’ve heard them, thank you—the budget isn’t turn key—where you put something in and boom something automatically changes–”
Darryl Fairchild: “You’ve got the city manager, you’ve got everyone here now.”
Mayor Jeffrey Mims: (gavel pounding) “Mr. Fairchild, please just one at a time.”
As Mims attempted to explain the situation to the audience, he hit a nerve with Turner Sloss.
Mayor Jeffrey Mims: “Many of these things that were presented today and that we heard yesterday could have easily been resolved—”
Shenise Turner-Sloss: “That is not true, your Honor, that is not true. I apologize for interrupting, but that is not true.”
Mayor Jeffrey Mims: (gavel pounding) “Excuse me, I did not interrupt you.”
Shenise Turner-Sloss: “I am not going to allow you to sit here and tell a blatant lie, and to say this was not communicated that is unfair, please do not do that because I will pull out emails your honor.”
The five-member commission recessed.
Upon returning, public comments were heard. City workers begged the commissioners to resolve their differences so as to not interrupt paychecks. Residents criticized Mayor Mims and Commissioners Shaw and Joseph for being rude to their colleagues. Some chastened them for not being as passionate to save Good Samaritan Hospital.Others cheered on Fairchild and Turner-Sloss. Business leaders said the public dispute cast a shameful cloud over Dayton's bright image.
Once public comments concluded, Fairchild promised to support the draft budget if the commissioners supported funding Dayton’s youth–to the tune of one-million-dollars for new and existing programs. “You guys want to put a million dollars toward a competitive process for young people—you’ll get my vote.”
After four hours into the meeting and another brief recess—Mayor Mims announced—”I’ve been authorized by my fellow commissioners with information from our city manger to direct staff to move one million dollars from CDBG to youth development. That will happen right now.”
CDBG is Community Development Block Grants—federal funds given to Dayton and to other cities nationwide. With this announcement, the commission unanimously passed Dayton’s 2023 tentative city budget. Thus, avoiding a city government shutdown.
Meanwhile, Commissioners publicly agreed to work on resolving other contentious issues.
Now city staffers are putting in the last pieces of the almost $453 million proposed operating budget. Commissioners will cast their final vote in mid February.