Tuesday, February 02, 2010

Amendments May Cut Tax Increase by 2 Percent

The City Council's Finance Committee has come up with amendments that could slash about 2 percent off a looming 9.6 percent tax increase.

The 12-page list was handed out to council members at Monday's meeting, but not made public.

"This reflects the best effort of the Finance Committee in consultation with the administration," Councilman Adrian Mapp said.

Total amendments were $1.66 million, (Correction: $1.066) he said, but the city was also required by the state Division of Local Government Services to take out some projected revenues, such as payments in lieu of taxes. The $73.3 million budget for the year that began July 1, 2009 was introduced in November with $49.3 to be raised in local taxes, up from $45 million in 2008. The council formed a Citizens Budget Advisory Committee which also studied the budget and gave input.
Click here to add your comments for the CBAC.

By the time amendments are finalized and approved, there will likely be only a month and a half in which to seek savings, as salaries - the biggest cost in the budget - have been paid out while awaiting budget resolution. Councilman William Reid asked about possible layoffs, but Acting City Administrator/Finance Director Bibi Taylor said if the council reduces salary lines, the administration has to do a layoff plan and submit it to the state. The state would have 30 days to complete a mandatory review of the plan and affected employees would have to receive 45-day notice.

If the budget is adopted Feb. 8, the city would have to meet with the unions and ask for concessions. If not successful, a layoff plan in March would take effect May 15. The budget year ends June 30.

Savings established this year will have a full-year effect next year, City Council President Annie McWilliams said.

Among points in the discussion:

--The Plainfield Public Library was originally up for a $300,000 cut, but it was cut to $150,000 both in consideration of its value to the community but also to show it must share the pain. The library will be asked to pay the costs for its employees' benefits, Council Adrian Mapp said.

--The Corporation Counsel's office saw its funds increase, in recognition of the need to hire highly skilled attorneys.

--Salary and wage reductions had to be considered in closed session Monday.

When asked for her thoughts on the budget, Taylor, now up for a four-year term concurrent with the mayor, said she was not in favor of any amendments.

"I'm in favor of the budget as introduced by the mayor," Taylor said.

But McWilliams said the council had gone through each item and asked what effect it would have. The amendments held "no cut that seemed detrimental," she said.

--Bernice Paglia


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Why were the council's specific budget cuts not made public? Is this normal?

7:40 AM  
Blogger Bernice said...

They are not final. They will have to be put up for a vote eventually, maybe by next week. The amendments will be published, although the legal notice is just "from" and "to" and has no context. The public will have a chance to comment once the amendments are finalized.

9:07 AM  

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