Mayor Andre Sayegh came under heavy criticism on Tuesday night during a budget vote for his running of the municipal government over the past two years.
Both Sayegh’s allies and foes found his leadership lacking because of decline in services and questionable management.
“My confidence in this administration is at zero,” said councilman Michael Jackson. He complained about dirty streets and failings in recycling. “There’s a sense of lawlessness around this entire city.”
But Jackson, who was among the candidates to run for mayor in 2018, is a regular critic of the mayor.
Sayegh’s allies also expressed their frustrations at the mayor’s running of the city.
“People in this city are doing so many illegal things and no one is doing anything,” said councilwoman Ruby Cotton, a reliable Sayegh ally. She wanted weekend inspectors to go after lawbreakers.
Councilwoman Lilisa Mimms said she has asked the administration to fix sinkholes on roadways and other problems for two years, but many have remained unresolved.
“We still have some work to do,” said Mimms, who often supports the mayor’s initiatives at the council.
“You stated in this budget that you guys are going to take care of recycling is that correct?” asked councilman Al Abdelaziz, a reliable Sayegh ally. He has criticized the administration on its failure to collect recycling.
“Yes, we are working on that, councilman,” replied Sayegh’s business administrator Kathleen Long.
“I’ve been hearing that for two years. This is your opportunity to get it done,” said Abdelaziz.
Sayegh’s administration failed to adequately staff the Recycling Division leading to service disruptions for much of the duration of his tenure.
Long said the budget has funds to hire more employees to adequately staff recycling.
“We understand that the administration has to catch up. He got two more years to catch up. If not, we will say bye bye to them,” added councilman Luis Velez.
“You have six months to prove that this is actually going to improve your recycling and other areas.,” said council president Flavio Rivera.
“The mayor has heard everybody tonight because I know he’s watching. And he heard all the concerns. And so, he understands that he has to get it together,” said Cotton.
Council members approved the six-month transition year budget in a 5-3 vote.
Abdelaziz, Gilman Choudhury, Velez, Cotton, and Rivera voted in favor while Maritza Davila, Jackson, and Mimms voted against.
The $133.33 million budget. covers spending through December 31, 2020. Property taxes are flat in the budget, said officials.
“It’s a flat levy for the six quarters,” said finance director Marge Cherone.
The $81.2 million levy in the six-month budget is the same amount that the city raised through taxation in the first six months of 2020.
Before the vote, the council held a public hearing on the budget. No residents spoke during the public hearing.
Sayegh did not respond to a message seeking his response to the criticism from council members on Tuesday night.
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