Councilman John Hendrickson passes on the microphone to Roy Houseman. That’s official. His unofficial role as a budget watchdog also will be filled.
“I was a banker for many years, so that’s just one of my areas, and I have agreed with Hendrickson that we need to get a handle on this,” Hellegaard said.
“This” is the budget, of course. Last year, Mayor John Engen told departments to pinch down spending, and they did. Hellegaard is thinking there’s a lot more squeezing to be done ahead.
City finance director Brentt Ramharter gives the council periodic updates, and Hellegaard put in a referral asking for one. She’s hoping it comes sooner rather than later.
Her approach might be different than Hendrickson’s. He was loud at the microphone, and so far, Hellegaard has been more watchful and quiet, though firm at times.
“I remember my second-grade teacher lecturing the class once. She said you never learn anything when your mouth is moving,” Hellegaard said. “So I’ve kind of used this (first couple years) to sit back, educate myself, (and) size up the territory.”
Her approach in the future? “I’ll continue to put the referrals in and hope we can have open discussions and work this stuff out.”
Sounds reasonable enough. Council president Ed Childers is hoping for a constructive council, too. He said a dozen alderfolks get elected, and 12 get to have input. He also said he doesn’t like a minority that just votes “no” on things like the budget.
“This is what I think,” Childers said. “The minority that functions best is one that tries to contribute to the things that are going on and make … the final product something that works best for everybody.”
Committee assignments and leadership roles are on the docket for next week. The council convenes again Monday, this time with Houseman.
‘Til then, Happy New Year.
— Keila Szpaller