The Apopka Voice has learned that two budget meetings will take place between the candidates for Council Seat#3 (Commissioner Sam Ruth, Doug Bankson and Alice Nolan), Council Seat #4 (Commissioner Bill Arrowsmith, Kyle Becker and Young Kim) and City Administrator Glenn Irby tomorrow and Thursday.
The meetings will not be open to the public.
“We are offering a meeting with candidates seeking office purely as a courtesy,” said City Administrator Glenn Irby through an email to The Apopka Voice. “We will be discussing the operating budget for 2015-2016 and capital projects currently underway or soon to be started. Governmental budgets are difficult to maneuver if you do not work with them.”
Irby also explained how it ended up being two meetings instead of one for the four non-incumbent candidates.
“I did not believe the two incumbents would care to join in on this courtesy meeting and planned to have one meeting for the challengers. When both Commissioners Arrowsmith and Ruth expressed a desire to attend, I had one of two choices: 1) advertise a public meeting, or 2) hold two separate meetings. By holding two separate meetings, Commissioner Arrowsmith could attend one and Commissioner Ruth could attend the other.”
It is a meeting Doug Bankson has wanted for quite awhile.
“I had asked over a month ago to meet with the city administrator over questions I had with the budget and was told at that time they were working on meeting with everyone together to answer any questions,” said Bankson. “I would have preferred to be able to meet with him directly, but it appears to save time they wanted to meet together. I did question whether there was a sunshine law issue and was told they were keeping the two seats separate so as not to create any infractions.”
Irby explained that one-on-one meetings are not off the table, but that two meetings may be more time-effective.
“I considered one-on-one meetings but decided the group idea would not take as long to disseminate the same information. At the forums I will explain to the attendees they can request a one-on-one with me at a later date.”
Kyle Becker, candidate for Seat#4 welcomes a chance to talk about the budget.
"From how it was presented to me, this is a forum for the candidates of both seats to ask any questions pertaining to the budget. I think it is a good idea, and something I am looking forward to," Becker said. "I am really open to any forum, at the end of the day it is an opportunity for me to ask detailed questions directly to city staff leadership."
Irby went on to explain why the public is not invited to this budget discussion.
“If the public were to attend and were allowed to speak and ask questions, the candidates would not necessarily receive the personal attention they need to answer questions possibly asked of them during the campaign," he said. "If the public ever has a specific question, I can and always do make myself available to answer.”
“We have two meetings per month and both are open to the public. We had numerous budget workshops where the entire budget was open and fully explained. The public was invited to the workshops. The budget is posted in its entirety online at the city’s website. All capital projects are discussed in the open and voted on by the Council where public input is always welcome.”
Alice Nolan, candidate for Seat #3, will bring the public’s questions with her as well as her own.
“I am excited to sit down and speak with Glenn Irby about questions the public has and questions I have,” Nolan said.
What do you think? Should the public be allowed to observe these meetings? Let Your Voice be heard by voting in our online poll below: