Information is power, and City Manager Tai Jaiyeoba is keeping a tight grip on information regarding his recommended 2023-2024 fiscal year budget, which he has named “Going Forward Together.”
Judging from the first budget work session, a better name for Jaiyeoba’s recommended budget would be, “Follow Me and Don’t Ask Questions.”
Early in the budget work session, Mayor Nancy Vaughan asked that the budget presentation be posted on the website so councilmembers could view it, or that the members of the City Council be given hard copies of the presentation.
Later in the meeting, Vaughan informed her fellow members of the City Council that the presentation had been posted to the website. But it was evidently taken down after the meeting, making it inaccessible to the public and members of the City Council without the forethought to download it during the brief period it was available.
During the meeting, Councilmember Tammi Thurm said, “I think part of what this points to is that the format of this budget does not really give clarity or insights into what the budget really is. We don’t actually get to see where the money is going,”
She added, “Next year, how can we present the budget in a different way in a way that we can really see what we are spending our money on.”
Councilmember Zack Matheny noted that on May 11 he had requested a comparison of the budgets of several departments over the past five to 10 years and had not received it.
Matheny said, “When I asked for that two weeks ago, I kind of did want it.”
Jaiyeoba replied, “I reviewed that this morning and I think I may be ready to share it with you.”
Evidently, Jaiyeoba was not ready to share that information with Matheny because on Thursday, May 25, Matheny still had not received that report and requested it once again from Jaiyeoba.
If the City Council can’t get information about the budget, what chance does the public have of getting information?