Monday, January 26, 2009

Thoughts on the Budget Process

As January winds down, budget passage is still up in the air. The City Council will be asked tonight (Monday, Jan. 26, 2009) to consider extending emergency budget appropriations through March and April. Daffodils may be blooming before the budget passes with just two months left in the fiscal year.

Meanwhile, the council approved a calendar that calls for FY 2010 budget talks to start in March. The new budget would be for the fiscal year beginning July 1. Figures on actual expenses for FY 2009 will not be known until after the budget year closes.

So wouldn't it be better to focus on this year's budget until it is finalized? Despite the many meetings last fall on the budget, no amendments have yet been formulated. Then again, if budget passage does not happen until April, 10 of 12 months' costs to run the city will have been expended and there will be little to amend.

A one-person layoff plan is under consideration, but the targeted individual will probably still be working until April, so there will be only two months' salary savings. Is this fair or sensible? In 2006, the administration seemed to have the same person in the crosshairs and went so far as to hire somebody at $82,000 to hold the same title. So two people were drawing high salaries for the same job. The new hire, who also held a position in another municipality, finally left and the city veteran stayed on. Then, as I recall, the title was done away with, but the longtime employee took a lesser title, now subject to layoff. Given the history of how this situation was handled, there is likely to be a cost in litigation that may exceed whatever savings the layoff might have produced.

There are other examples of this kind of targeting during the current administration, but poking at people here and there does not reflect a fiscal policy. Of course, the turnover in Administration & Finance may have contributed to ill-considered fiscal strategies. At present, there is no permanent finance director or chief financial officer. I'm told the city has hired a very capable, knowledgeable person to help out with finalizing the budget process. His advice should be heeded.

Tonight's meeting is to include a report from the council's Finance Committee as well as a report on the FY 2009 budget status. I hope people will come out to listen or will view the meeting on Channel 74. Much of the turmoil is due to forces outside city control, but surely there are some commonsense things that can be done to cut city costs. Every household is rethinking spending and allocation of resources. After core services, what discretionary expenses can the city do without? Answers must be found as soon as possible.

--Bernice Paglia


Anonymous Anonymous said...

An interesting not on the budget - the mayor is budgeted for 3 positions - 1 Full time and 2 part time. If you look at the city web site, there are only 2 positions listed.

I am floored that our mayor needs 3 positions to help her in her job. Most CEOs of private business only have 1 assistant.

12:25 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I find it very interesting that Adrian Mapp and the New Democrats are now going after the PMUA administration and commissioners, since Carol Brokaw has announced that she’s considering running for Mayor in Plainfield. Mapp is trying very hard to get her out of the race since she has friends who too are New Democrats. I hope she stays strong in the race and that the people make the decision rather than Mapp.

It’s my understanding that Dan Damon’s buddy was Commissioner at PMUA at one time and NEVER said anything about how the organization was being run. Is this the type of campaign Mapp and the New Democrats will run? Every time a person opposes there candidates for mayor and council, they pull these sorts of tactics? When the New Democrats were in control of the PMUA, nothing was said at all. Now that Carol Brokaw is interested in running and won’t back down, they seem to be pointing the fingers at her in her position.

The majority of the Commissioners and the City Council are New Democrats… Wake up Queen City of Plainfield! This majority is driven by 8 years of people being put into place by the New Democrats!! The Board of Education, the Council, and the PMUA and now these are the results of THEIR planning and execution of their way of doing business!! Yet still, Adrian Mapp wants to blame others.

I find it very very embarrassing for Adrian Mapp and his supporters to try to embarrass an attorney and a citizen and a woman like Carol Brokaw. Does he have something against women? Because I don’t, Carol’s got my vote! Hang in there Carol!

3:25 PM  
Blogger Bernice said...

Not sure all PMUA commissioners are New Dems, but most are/were members of the Democratic City Committee. Alex Toliver,Dave Beck, Harold Mitchell,William Reid and also PMUA execs Lou Jones and Dave Ervin are on the Democratic Committee. James Green is a Mitchell ally. The mayor stated recently that the Rev. Tracey Brown is her pastor. I used to track the political DNA of committee members when there were Mitchell, Taylor and Green partisans on board, but haven't done so recently.

5:20 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I know that Carol Brokaw is a PMUA commissioner but when did she say she was running for mayor?? I haven't heard or read of Mapp or any "New" democrats attacking her either. Brokaw ran twice as a New Democrat for a committee seat and she is very friendly with Mapp. I thought Robinson-Briggs was running? Aren't she and Brokaw also friends? Where do people get this information from? I can't imagine that Ms. Brokaw would run for first time political office as mayor just out of the blue.

7:04 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I don't understand the reasoning of anonymous at 3:25 pm. I have always had problems with the PMUA as have hundreds of other Plainfield property owners. Why would anyone assume that criticism comes from this or that political camp? I haven't heard Mapp or McWilliams complain about the PMUA although they should. If the PMUA commissioners are approving raising rates and the people are upset, the people will complain whether they are democrats or Republicans or support Ralph Nader. Bernice when did Carol Brokaw say she was going to run for mayor? This is news to me. Also I think it's unfair to suggest that Mapp is a misogynist out to embarrass Ms. Brokaw. Where did this happen?

7:14 PM  

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