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Council nods change to line item policy

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Exceptions include all travel, training and payroll expenditures or transfers, which Cesternino said would still require council approval.


Currently all transfers and expenditures must be approved by the council, however, Warmath and other councilors, including Cesternino have opposed transfers or expenditures after the fact.


Why do we spend the time talking about line item transfers when theyre already done? Cesternino asked. We have very good department heads that are excellent stewards of our money.


Warmath said the primary role of the council is to be fiscally accountable and said she opposed the ordinance because it would allow department heads to move up to $2,500 whenever they wished.


Lee and Craighead pointed out they have to approve all transfers and expenditures, and if a department head is transferring money too often, they will investigate why the money is being spent.


Thats my job, and I will do my job, Lee said, adding that if transfers or expenditures are not justifiable, he will turn them down.


Warmath said the citys budget is a guide and said if department heads have the power to move money around and spend it without council approval, then their efforts to make a budget are wasted.


We have very few powers up here, the only absolute we have is the fiscal accountability, she said.


Cesternino said the ordinance does not allow departments to spend more money than what they receive in the budget, but noted it gives them leeway to make decisions. He pointed out the money is already in the departments budgets, they are just moving the funds from one line to another within that budget.


He also said a monthly report would be brought before the council to show all expenditures and line item transfers so the council could continue to be up-to-date on all fiscal activity.


Warmath said when she is given a budget in her private company she cannot break away from what is allocated. Other councilors said they have leeway in the private sector to make transfers within their budgets.


How can you blow the budget out the roof if theyre moving money they already have? Ward 2 Councilor Kevin Huddleston asked.


Ward 5 Councilor Haywood Barry said the department heads should have a more leeway than were giving them. He asked that the initial number of $5,000 be amended down to $2,500, which Cesternino accepted.


Warmath noted that very few transfers the council considers are over $2,500 and said its the job of the council to be conscious of what is being done with the peoples money.


I think this is what people forget, this is not our money, it belongs to the people, she said.


Also, Lebanon Police Officers James Tuggle, Brandon Payne and Field Training Officer Tim Kelley and Dispatcher Nate Beatty were awarded the Police Excellence Medal prior to Tuesday nights council meeting for their roles in diffusing a situation where officers were fired upon in the Head Homes Federal Housing Project.


On March 25, officers Tuggle and Payne responded to a harassment call at 10 Head Homes, where the caller, Russell Harvey, claimed he was going to shoot the officers that responded.


Payne and Tuggle arrived on scene and were fired upon by Harvey. After establishing a safe perimeter, the officers and FTO Kelley began talking to the suspect. Dispatcher Beatty received several calls from Harvey and relayed the information to the officers at the scene.


Tuggle, Payne and Kelley were able to resolve the situation with Beatty over the phone, encouraging and convincing Harvey to exit his home unarmed. No one was injured in the incident.


Staff Writer Patrick Hall may be contacted at phall@wilsonpost.com.


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