Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Budget Resolution, Top Jobs Pending

At the end of 2007 and again at the end of 2008, City Administrator Marc Dashield found himself handling the budget process without the benefit of a chief financial officer or a finance director to help him out. Now that he is leaving to become town manager of Montclair, a City Council member asked who will be in charge of the budget process. There was no definitive answer. The city still does not have a permanent CFO and the new finance director is still becoming familiar with Plainfield. The administration recently attempted to pass her off as the CFO, but she is not certified.

One wonders how seriously the administration is taking the situation. With a second term beginning Jan. 1, the mayor must put together her cabinet, namely a city administrator and three department heads. While the budget is now in the council's hands, the mayor and administration must decide whether to push for a second deferral of pension payments, if that option arises. Dashield has stated that all but one of the city's bargaining units will be negotiating new contracts, setting the stage for concessions and givebacks, but will anything happen in time to cut the projected 9.6 percent tax increase? Half the fiscal year's salaries have already been paid out.

Well, these are not exactly visions of sugarplums, they are more like lumps of coal rattling around inside City Hall. Meanwhile, it is a good time to review what the city administrator's job is overall. The City Charter states that the city administrator "shall be chosen solely on the basis of his training, experience, and administrative and executive qualifications." A masters degree in public or business administration is required, along with at least two years' actual experience in municipal administration or and equivalent combination of education and experience.

Here, from the city's special charter, is the city administrator's job description:

4.3 City administrator; powers and duties.
Under the direction and supervision of the mayor, the city administrator shall:
(a) Direct and supervise the administration of the departments of the city government, subject to the provisions of the charter;
(b) Provide for the organization of the work of the departments, subject to the requirements of an administrative code to be adopted by the council;
(c) Review the administration and operation of each of the departments and recommend to the mayor from time to time such measures as may appear necessary or desirable for the purpose of improving the efficiency and the economy of the city government;
(d) Review, analyze and forecast trends of city services and finance the activities and programs of all boards, commissions and other municipal bodies, and report and recommend thereon to the mayor;
(e) Assist the mayor to prepare an annual current expense budget and an annual capital budget for consideration by the council;
(0 Develop, install and maintain centralized personnel and purchasing procedures and systems as may be authorized by the administrative code;
(g) Perform such other functions and duties as may be prescribed by charter or ordinance.

Let the search begin. The mayor nominates the city administrator and department heads and the council must confirm them. In 2006, the mayor named acting cabinet members on Jan. 1, but they had to be confirmed after 90 days. All received waivers of the residency requirement. How will things look in January 2010?

--Bernice Paglia


Blogger olddoc said...

Plainfield should be renamed TITANIC TOWN

9:18 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ms. Taylor would make an excellent city administrator. She is tough and no-nonsense and extremely competent. You should see her in action. Plainfield would benefit from her excellent mind, ethics, and skills.

10:06 AM  
Blogger active citizen said...

I wish I didn't live on the Titanic, but if we remove the captain we still might be able to steer away from the iceberg. It's so few of the City's voters decided to re-elect a mayor who is way out of her league when it comes to her job. If this were the real world, she would have been fired years ago. So is NJ politics. Sad.

10:37 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yeah, but the Titanic at least had a band while it was going down!

1:29 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Start a recall of the mayor. The council can issue a vote of no confidence. Even if they don't have the votes, it will garner enough attention that the media and the law will start paying attention to what is going on.

Recall Now!

3:39 PM  
Blogger olddoc said...

Need a petition signed by 20% of the registered voters for a recall election.

4:59 PM  
Anonymous Up for recall petition said...

Count me in!

7:05 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This town has always been top heavy. Notice a broken bench at a park? It goes from Mayor-> Special Ass't->City Adminstrator->Dir Public Works Urban Dev->Supeintendent PW->Asst' Super->Foreman-> worker with hammer ![opps he was layed off]

7:19 PM  

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