The Pensacola City Council, at the first of two planned public hearings on the issue, failed Wednesday evening to pass Mayor Ashton Hayward’s proposed $211 million city budget. After about an hour of debate, only four of the city’s eight Council members — Jewel Cannada-Wynn, Brian Spencer, Andy Terhaar, and P.C. Wu — voted in favor, one shy of the five votes needed for approval. Charles Bare, Sherri Myers, and Gerald Wingate voted against the budget, while Councilman Larry B. Johnson was absent.
After further discussion, the Council voted to hold a budget workshop next Wednesday, September 16 at 5:15 pm — the date and time which had been scheduled for the second public hearing. Though Council members held two lengthy budget workshops in July, Councilwoman Sherri Myers felt that the Council needed to take a closer look at several issues, including the City Council budget, outside agency funding, and debt service. “I don’t think that we’ve had a real budget workshop,” Myers said. “We had two days of looking at PowerPoints.”
Councilman P.C. Wu disagreed. “We sat through two days of budget review, each day lasting eight hours,” said Wu. “In addition to that, [City Chief Financial Officer] Mr. Barker opened his door to anybody that had questions.”
The city’s fiscal year ends on September 30. According to Barker, the City has until October 9 to adopt a budget. Council members agreed Wednesday to convene the first of two required public hearings on September 23; a date has not yet been set for the second hearing.
Earlier in the meeting, the Council did vote 6-1 to maintain the City’s current millage rate at 4.2895 mills. Councilwoman Myers was the dissenting vote, stating that she felt there needed to be more discussion about potentially raising the millage slightly instead of borrowing money.