Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Council Examines Budget

The City Council’s first major budget session kicked off Tuesday (Oct. 17, 2006) with a presentation by Finance Committee leader Rashid Burney on comparisons of Plainfield costs with other Central Jersey municipalities.

Burney and Dale Rodel, president of the Kenyon Avenue Block Association, prepared a display of comparative costs for various services in six municipalities. The city’s Fire Division came out well compared to Rahway, New Brunswick, Piscataway, Irvington and Edison.

But other comparisons found Plainfield lacking, such as in Inspections revenue versus costs. The study found costs per resident for city services highest in Rahway and second highest in Plainfield.

If Plainfield was able to meet the average of city costs in the study area, the savings might be as high as $2.2 million, presenters said.

City departments and divisions up for review Tuesday included the Fire Division, which has a problem with overtime costs, and Economic Development, which needs more staff. Public Health services are also understaffed, said new Health Officer Boniface Udenta.

Fire officials said looming retirements and a lack of money for training may present problems for the division.

The Health Division needs more staff to cope with health investigations and reporting to state agencies, Udenta said.

The next scheduled budget meeting is 6 p.m. Oct. 31 in City Hall Library, 515 Watchung Ave.

--Bernice Paglia


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