Enforce Limits On Spending

Twenty thousand dollars is a lot of money for a small government entity such as the village of Belmont. Village Council members are right to be upset that the amount was spent without their knowledge.

Municipal officials had agreed to renovate the basement of an old school building to house village offices. Yet this week, when bills for the work were presented, the amount came as a surprise.

During a council meeting, village Fiscal Officer Ricky Burkhead reported he had received invoices for $20,547 worth of work at the facility. “Apparently, everything’s been done. I was not aware of it, and I about had a heart attack when I opened the invoices,” Burkhead added.

“I don’t like it and I don’t think it’s right,” commented council President Shaun Bruce. “We just spent $20,547 and we had no say in it.”

Little explanation was offered. Mayor Stan Sobel did say that much of the work was performed by village employees. A substantial amount of material used came from the old school building, he added.

Council members agreed to pay the invoices, but added no more work is to be done without their approval.

Misunderstandings can occur, especially in small towns where public officials are eager to get things done. But limits have to be set. In many communities, expenditures over certain amounts have to be approved by council members.

Belmont council members may want to ensure they have such limits in place. They also ought to determine how the $20,547 worth of work was authorized — and make it clear there are to be no similar misunderstandings in the future.

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