WOODMERE — Council met in a special session on Monday to discuss budgetary controls for the village and how to use a system of checks and balances to approve expenditures.
Council President Jennifer Mitchell Earley said some of regulations have come into question while working with the administration in recent months and others need to be clarified for future village officials.
Council members discussed how they could oversee all village expenditures to make sure that funds are being used efficiently and for purposes that are in the best interest of the village. For example, they discussed the mayor’s spending authority, which has a limit of $5,000 per expenditure per vendor. There is no total limit to the mayor’s spending on the books, Ms. Earley said, but all funds that he spends must have already been appropriated.
“The whole point of having the [mayor’s] spending authority is for an emergency, but we can list what is an emergency,” Ms. Earley said.
Councilwoman Lisa Brockwell, who also serves as the chairwoman of the Finance Committee, said that the mayor’s $5,000 spending authority is fine but she is concerned with where the funds are spent.
“I don’t mind a mayor having up to $5,000 in spending authority,” she said. “What bothers me is when the agenda is a party or getting Woodmere’s name out there.”
Councilwoman SharNette McCully agreed, saying that those are not emergencies. One of Mayor Ben Holbert’s recent expenditures that the council mentioned was purchasing hanging flower baskets for more than $4,600 to decorate Chagrin Boulevard for the coming summer months.
Glenda Todd-Miller, a member of council and the finance committee, said she met with Treasurer Tom Cornhoff to discuss these concerns. Mr. Cornhoff was considering paying bills in two cycles every month, she said. One set of bills could be regular utilities that would not necessarily need to be reviewed on a regular basis, she said, and the other could be pending purchase orders that need council’s scrutiny.
Ms. Brockwell said that she does not like how there is no limit on how much the mayor can spend using his spending authority.
“That’s why we’re here, to tighten these controls,” Ms.McCully said.
The village also contracts with consultants, including one for marketing and one for economic development, but Ms. Brockwell said that she does not see the mayor’s “vision.”
Councilman Craig Wade said that he wants to see a return on investment.
“At some point I have to see where the money that we’re investing in you is reaping rewards,” Mr. Wade said of the consultants. The council members said consultants may be doing a good job, but they want to see proof.
The finance committee will meet on May 2 at 6 p.m. at Village Hall to further discuss budgetary controls and expenditures in the village.