Budget Introduction Delayed
Questions over layoff decisions derailed the expected introduction of the SFY 2010 budget for the year that began July 1, 2009.
A large number of members of the Plainfield Municipal Employees Association came out for Monday's City Council meeting, hoping to be heard at a 6:30 p.m. executive session, but union president Cynthia Smith said the group was ejected because although 18 people received layoff notices, three were out of town and so did not respond.
Lacking a full complement, the union was denied a hearing, Smith said.
The crowd was only admitted once the meeting was opened, nearly an hour after the stated 8 p.m. starting time.
Officials announced the budget introduction would now take place at a special meeting at 8 p.m. Nov. 23, following a special 6:30 p.m. executive session that evening.
Speakers on the issue of budget reductions advocated furloughs, givebacks, concessions and attrition as ways to cut costs.
Smith said most of the PMEA members live in Plainfield and are taxpayers who would be doubly hit by layoffs, suffering both income loss and possible foreclosures on their homes.
While PMEA members are 80 to 85 percent Plainfield residents, she said, other bargaining units'
member residency is only 15 percent, she said.
"Stop the targeted cuts," Smith said.
Other speakers said proposed cuts to the Planning Division would severely impact city initiatives, such as the historic preservation movement and the efforts of the Shade Tree Commission.
Resident Frank D'Aversa said the city must try to negotiate with its unions.
"There has to be a stick and there has to be a carrot," he said.
In all, speakers held out hope that some sort of dialogue would emerge to reduce costs.
City Adminstrator Marc Dashield recently said all of the city's multiple bargaining units would be up for contract renewal at the end of 2009, but City Council President Rashid Burney reported on his blog that those talks did not result in any concessions.
With time marching on and the budget year elapsing, there will be fewer and fewer chances to cut costs.
The new Citizen Budget Advisory Committee will have less and less leeway to suggest cuts.
Stay tuned for future developments.