"This budget actually went into effect starting last July," Mayor Jeff Harrison told the council.
Retroactively articulating city spending for the past three fiscal quarters, the budget was delayed due to a standoff between the council and previous mayor Sara Augusta.
Friction surfaced before the November election when then-councilman Harrison asked Augusta, his political opponent, for an itemized list of city debt. A war of words between the two failed to clarify the situation and no budget was passed.
After the election, Harrison blamed his predecessor for budgetary mismanagement, one reason cited for recent hikes in water, sewer and garbage fees.
"I've essentially inherited a mess," said Harrison after presenting the council earlier this month with over $100,000 in delinquent city debt accumulated on Augusta's watch.
Harrison has accused Augusta of providing the council with inaccurate financial information to the council and failing to properly administer city collections, allowing large unpaid service bills to accumulate.
"I did the best I could with what I had to work with," said Augusta, who has denied being sluggish on collections.
Augusta also said the city council knew service rates had to be raised in 2002 but refused because it was an election year. The council's 2000 vote lowering garbage rates damaged Cumberland's revenue stream, she added.
Passage of a budget at the next council meeting completes one requirement for the release of over $77,000 of LGEA funds which have been withheld because the city failed to have a budget and updated audits, said Harrison.
At the beginning of February, Cumberland's 2001 and 2002 fiscal year audits remained incomplete, said accountant Troy Gaw, because the city had failed to pay him approximately $13,000 for previous work.
With progress being made on the budgets, over $90,000 in Municipal Road Aid funds, also withheld due to unfinished audits, have been released, said Harrison.
In other business, the council voted to submit a scope of work modification on a PRIDE 531 grant, shifting funds earmarked to renovate four sewer pump stations toward the repair of the sewer plant. According to engineer Paul Maggard of Gress Engineering, the state Division of Water has issued a notice of violation, citing several problems with the city sewer facility.
Most notable is a dilapidated trickling filter, worn down because maintenance funds were not allocated in the past, said Harrison.
"There's no environmental problems down there," said Maggard, who estimated the facility refurbishment will cost approximately $250,000.