Monday, November 23, 2009

Budget Issues Draw Crowd

The notion that a 10-hour outside consultancy could replace 90 hours' work by in-house Planning Division staff met with objections and even derision by speakers at Monday's special City Council meeting.

Residents and officials said the change would create a loss in understanding of local planning concerns and issues, in addition to being unrealistic.

"I just don't believe that number. It just doesn't look good," Councilman William Reid said.

The two full-time and one part-time staffers were removed from a layoff plan before council members approved it Monday, but administrators said delaying the cut will only lead to more layoffs later to make up a 9.6 percent budget shortfall for the budget year that began July 1, 2009. But members of the governing body said the move will force more budget-slashing before final adoption.

The special meeting included votes on introducing the SFY 2010 budget, which means it will now become the governing body's budget to modify as it will.

In addition, the council agreed to seek extraordinary state aid, while admitting the tough fiscal times mean it is highly unlikely that Plainfield will get anything close to its $3.5 million request.

Under questioning by members of the governing body, the administration and union representatives differed on how soon the administration had seriously addressed cost-saving measures such as furloughs, wage freezes, union givebacks and other voluntary measures to save jobs. Even on Monday, the administration's stance seemed vague.

Plainfield Municipal Employees Association President Cynthia Smith refuted some administration claims about timelines on talks, saying members had agreed to concessions earlier in the year, but then got layoffs only from her union after the Nov. 3 general election.

Among the half-dozen city bargaining units, some Public Safety groups just got raises, Smith noted, but deplored the discrepancy of opportunity.

"I don't want to stand here tonight and be pitted union against union," she said.

The City Council has empowered a Citizens Budget Advisory Committee, but no deliberations have yet been announced.

The city is already in the fifth month of the SFY Budget year and as time passes, opportunities to save will dwindle, as speakers pointed out.

City Administrator Marc Dashield said a budget hearing will be held in early December to answer more questions.

--Bernice Paglia


Blogger Rob said...

The sad part is that simple code enforcement could generate revenue from many of the property owners who are making $ and not bothering to correct code violations or improving the standards of their facilities whether it be residential rental or commercial. It won't make up all the needed $, but it would help. But, again, ignoring the obvious seems to be a talent with the mayor. Look how much money they could have raked in from the Connelley properties alone had they inspected and enforced simple code violations.

9:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

If Connelley is now bankrupt why would we think he would have had the money to pay for inspection violations, which on the expense side have real costs attached to them for inspection, collection and legal action.

12:09 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

How about cutting the catering budge? Which, by the way, does not really appear in the budget. Where does she get her money?

12:58 PM  
Blogger Rob said...

If the city HAD been doing inspections and following up on complaints all these years. Not implying NOW, there are also plenty of other landlords in violation of zoning and health codes. And, you can recoup the money as liens on the property when it's sold.

3:40 PM  

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