Woodmere Village Council members have made it clear that they are concerned about an efficiently run government, with attention to fiscal responsibility. That’s good for residents who pay for the operation of the village through their tax dollars.
Some of the focus has been on the mayor, and that has become a curious situation.
This past spring, council approved two pieces of emergency legislation. One limited the calling of council meetings to the council president or four council members, with no option for the mayor (not even for an emergency). Another ordinance required the mayor to submit a report when accepting donations on behalf of the village between $250 and $1,000.
Mayor Ben Holbert responded with a veto, his first since taking office in 2018.
Then council answered with an override in a 5-minute meeting on a Saturday, with no discussion.
Fast forward to Nov. 13 when council voted to reduce the mayor’s spending from $5,000 to $2,500 per line item. For any amount above that, he needs council’s permission. The other ordinance calls for council expenditures to be approved by the treasurer and council president.
Not surprisingly, council approved the ordinances as emergency legislation, meaning the action was completed in one meeting with no chance for residents to review and weigh in on the measures.
Ordinances generally get three readings at three separate meetings before a final vote is taken to give lawmakers and citizens an opportunity to examine the issues.
Then, Mayor Holbert vetoed the two ordinances before the long Thanksgiving weekend listing several reasons including that the legislation didn’t travel the usual route through the Finance and Legislative committees. He also said the spending cap would hamper his ability to run the village.
And guess what? Woodmere council met right after the holiday weekend and overturned the mayor’s veto.
Council President Jennifer Mitchell Earley, in a letter to residents, said she is concerned about Woodmere’s finances.Councilwoman Lisa Brockwell, who heads the Finance Committee, expressed concern over recent spending from the general fund.
The mayor, meanwhile, is talking big picture about the village’s place in the region as it relates to economic development.
We see a tug of war going on between the mayor and council.
It seems to us that the two sides need to sit down and talk to each other about a host of issues, beginning with finances, development, roads and services to families. Put a stop to the veto-override cycle.