After nearly two hours of political sparring, the Town Council in Forest Heights approved a budget last night and averted a possible shutdown.
The mayor of the town of 2,600 residents in Prince George's County had threatened to stop town services -- including trash collection and police patrols -- if the council did not settle on a spending plan last night.
The council, which includes the mayor, voted 6 to 1 to approve the $1.3 million budget, which goes into effect today, the first day of the 2006 fiscal year. Council member Myles Spires, who questioned several line items, cast the dissenting vote.
"We got a budget," said Mayor Joyce Beck, as she shook hands with constituents last night following the raucous meeting. "We needed to do it right."
More than 150 residents of the town, which borders the District in the southwestern part of Prince George's, attended the meeting. Some went to the podium to urge the council to vote. Others yelled from their seats for an end to the fighting.
"Being elected officials, you do have to work together," said Jacqueline Goodall. "Drop all of the pettiness because we will vote you out if you don't."
One resident warned that if the trash collectors didn't pick up her garbage, the mayor and council members' "front yards might become the county landfill."
After the Town Council failed to approve a budget June 22, Beck sent a letter to the town's employees, council members and residents warning them that she would be forced to shut down the town if a budget was not approved by today.
The Town Council passed an amended budget during a meeting last Friday. Four members of the seven-member body were present. Beck has argued that the vote on budget, approved 4 to 0 in her absence, was not acceptable because last Friday's meeting was not properly advertised.
The mayor scheduled last night's meeting to settle the issue.
"I'm glad that the budget that we proposed on the 24th was reaffirmed by the council tonight," said council member George Wiggers. He said last night that he believed the council's vote last week was valid.