Grantwood Village confirms budget officer appointment, discusses budget committee

By Kari Williams

Grantwood Village trustees last week discussed creating a finance committee after officially nominating resident Ed Balmes to the village’s vacated budget officer position.

Village Clerk Will Larson told the board he would like the village to consider developing a finance committee of three to five residents so it does not have to “be put in the position of relying on somebody to volunteer for the position (of budget director).”

Village Attorney Rich Magee, a member of the St. Louis County Municipal League Board of Directors, said having such a committee would be encouraged.

Larson told trustees he wants them to be open-minded in regard to forming a finance committee and suggested including residents from “both sides of the village” — Forest Haven and Grantwood. He also said it makes sense to have more people involved to allow for different perspectives.

“And, not to mention, we (would) have people who have experience with that finance committee in case Ed (Balmes) decides that he doesn’t want to (be budget officer) in the future, and so creating more of that bench strength going forward,” Larson said.

Any residents with suggestions for the budget can contact trustees via email, according to Chairman Mark Kienstra.

“We’re certainly open for (input),” Kienstra said. “We have received no written proposals or anything from anybody, either from the trustees [or] from the community at large. So we are always open to that if someone has a suggestion on how to modify a particular budget.”

Village Treasurer Kevin Kelso then asked, “Is that not a committee of 500? Is that not a committee of 500 to make suggestions on the budget?”

However, the thought behind creating a committee, according to Larson, would be to “specifically task people with thinking about the budget.”

Public works commissioner Walter Rust said he agrees with Larson’s suggestion of creating a finance committee.

“It’s a process, and I think if you have additional people understand the process, that would help all of us,” Rust said.

Magee, who is also the mayor of Glendale, told the board Glendale’s treasurer is a resident.

“He doesn’t perform detailed functions of a budget officer, but it’s another set of eyes looking at the finances for the city, and our auditors have said that’s essential,” Magee said.

A finance committee in Grantwood Village, according to Magee, could consist of Balmes, a board member and another layperson. Rust said he would be interested in sitting on such a committee.

No votes were taken on the matter.

In other business, Balmes was accepted as budget director to replace Joe Forand, who resigned from the post in April. Balmes, a certified public accountant with master’s degree in accounting, was the only nomination.

Resident Pat Jones asked the board why the Call reported in its June 6 issue that the village had a budget director, while the position was not nominated until last week’s board meeting.

“That doesn’t seem like it was according to procedures because, I believe, according to the ordinance, that the budget director had to be approved by the board,” Jones said, “and tonight he was, but evidently there was no meeting called prior to tonight for that discussion and process.”

Village ordinance, Section 130.030 states, “Except as otherwise provided by law, or ordinance, the budget officer shall be designated by the board of trustees of the village.”

Building Commissioner Bob Bess said he told Kienstra “he couldn’t do that,” referencing naming a budget officer outside of a meeting.

“I think we can give him a break because he is a new board member. He is (a) new chairman, and everybody makes mistakes,” Bess said. “He made one, and he knows it. He was called up, and I don’t want to see it go any further.”

Resident Don Dempsey then asked the board if there should have been a trustees meeting to discuss budget officer candidates.

Kienstra told Dempsey the goal for last week’s meeting was to meet the village’s ordinance.

“The ordinance does not call for (holding a separate meeting). So we met the ordinance and our goal. We had two goals this evening,” Kienstra said. “One was to appoint a budget officer. The other … was to make the budget presentation prior to the beginning of the new fiscal year…”

Balmes, who has been in contact with former budget officer Joe Forand, prepared the village’s fiscal 2013 budget.

For fiscal 2012, the budget estimates village revenue at $393,902 and expenses at $386,529. Fiscal 2013 projections put revenue at $393,100 and expenses at $393,000.