Council Members Criticize Mayor’s Budget Plan Asking for 5 Extra Staffers

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A spokesperson for Mayor Kevin Johnson said his office was blindsided by critics of a budget proposal that asks for five extra staff positions for his office at a cost of $700,000.

His chief critic is City Council Member Steve Hansen, who said Johnson violated his pledge to work within established rules after he lost his bid to pass his strong mayor initiative.

He said people in his district want more city services, not an expanded mayor's office.

"In the end we should not be spending $700,000 in the mayor's office, we need to spend that money providing services," Hansen told Fox40.

But Ben Sosenko, Johnson's spokesperson, said the mayor worked closely with City Manager John Shirey, who actually developed the proposed budget.

It was understood that Shirey agreed with the need to expand the activity of Johnson's office by using three unfilled positions in the city manager's office that would not add to the mayor's budget costs.

“We were surprised that it didn’t come out as we had discussed," Sosenko said.

Sosenko also said the cost of five extra positions was inflated and that it would likely coast half of the $700,000 in the proposed budget.

Several positions would be used to coordinate federal and state programs that could potentially bring in millions of dollars to the city.

“There are missed opportunities, due the lack of capacity, to bring home the bacon to Sacramento," Sosenko said.

That didn't deter several council members from saying this was not the time to make such big increases to the mayor's staff when there are so many backlogged needs from when the city budget was tight.

“The appearance is horrible and it makes us all look bad," Hansen said.

The budget process is just beginning and city council members will be making a case for programs and services that will benefit their own districts.

The mayor's budget item will also be in the mix as a budget is crafted prior to the June deadline.

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