Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Check the Figures, Please

Soon the city will have to send the official FY 2010 budget document to the state Division of Local Government Services. Let's hope those who sign off on it will actually look at it this time. Last year, a $1.7 million typo in revenues distorted the figures, necessitating some major adjustments. How hard is it to notice an increase of more than 800 percent in one line item?

This year, the city has a new finance director but still no permanent chief financial officer. Before he retired, former CFO Peter Sepelya served as the fiscal watchdog. Last year, a part-time CFO from Bridgewater signed off on the document.

Residents who have joined the City Council's budget committee need to have a copy of the budget document as well as the large binder that details budget requests of departments and divisions.

It will be interesting to see what is presented Thursday when the budget is introduced. The meeting is 8 p.m. in City Hall Library. There have been times in the past where an administration has given the governing body a low-ball budget, forcing the council to take the heat for a needed tax increase.

The council is also being asked to approve an application for extraordinary state aid for the fiscal year that began July 1, 2008. That kind of aid has been shrinking and there was talk in the last budget year of working for timely budget passage instead of waiting for the state to announce aid amounts so late that most of the budget year has elapsed.

Also on the agenda is approval of Councilman Adrian Mapp's request to attend the Black Issues Convention on Oct. 8 to 10. This is a new procedure. Council expenses for such things as attending conferences formerly required only the signature of the council president for approval. But in recent years, one former councilman drew heavily on the account, while others hardly used it. I believe this is the first instance of the new plan to have such requests approved by the full council.

Of course, the big item on the agenda Thursday is the introduction of an ordinance on a five-year tax abatement for P&F Management LLC for the new senior center/condo complex at 400 East Front Street. Click here for more information on P&F Management.

--Bernice Paglia


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Asking for Extraordinary aid is a BOGUS issue. Each town get so much and all the administration running around and delaying the budget until it finds out what it may recieve [pretty much 90% of last year] is just a smoke screen to avoid presentling & approving the budget before the election. Any EXTRA aid could always be added to the next years budget, holding up the processis smoke and mirrors.

9:31 AM  

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