District 3 City Councilman Dave Neumann sent out an email today announcing his official filing for reelection and asking for more endorsements and contributions — three days after a news story detailed overspending in his council office budget by $8,000.
Neumann was the only councilman to overspend his $16,400 budget, according to the DMN story; everyone else had a surplus (with District 1 Councilman Elba Garcia saving the most money — $12,931 left over.) The story quoted councilmen Ron Natinsky and Mitchell Rasansky as being partcularly miffed about the overspending, charging that Neumann should pay for it out of his own pocket, instead of letting City Manager Mary Suhm cover the costs with surplus funds from other councilmen’s office budgets.
Neumann told the DMN he wouldn’t do this; apparently, according to Rasansky and Councilman Linda Koop, Neumann had approched them asking to transfer funds from their accounts into his. They told him no, but Suhm’s office will end up balancing the overspending with the other council budgets anyway. According to the story, Neumann is "pleased that spending for all of the council offices combined will come in under budget and said he doesn’t see a problem with using funds that other members didn’t spend."
Neumann attributed the overspending to expenditure reports that lagged a month or two, and some councilmen, like Steve Salazar, gave him the benefit of the doubt, saying it was a "rookie mistake". Others were less forgiving, saying that access to expenditure reports is readily available, and even if not, each councilman should keep track of his personal expenses. The real question here is whether Oak Cliff neighbors care about an issue like this — or care enough to vote for someone else — or whether it’s only Neumann’s city council colleagues that have a problem with his actions. I’ve put in a call to Neumann’s office to try to find out what he thinks.