The Business of the City: Miscellaneous

Friday, May 25, 2012

City Government at Its....


Bernice Paglia's "PlainTalker" blog has a post this morning on the budget discussion that occurred Thursday evening at City Hall library. I posted a bit of commentary there, but figured I may as well put my comments on my own blog. Here they are, with some slight edits: The folks who are supposed to be in charge are once again showing their incompetence and sloppiness. I am incensed that accurate budget information was not given to us in a timely fashion. I agree with Citizens Budget Advisory Committee (CBAC) member Jan Massey that a great deal of time has been wasted. As one of the other CBAC members stated, these folks get paid a lot of money (six-figure salaries) for perpetual "mediocrity." What makes it all the more infuriating and, frankly, offensive, is that the administration has a posting for NINE (9) new civil service positions for "Senior Computer Service Technicians" under the Department of Administration, Finance, Health and Social Services at an hourly salary range of $25.67 to 34.15! How on earth can something so ridiculous be justified, when the IT Director himself stated in his budget presentation that he only needed 3 IT techs? 

To the layperson, the administration appears to be playing fast and loose with the public's money. I asked, on the record, for an answer to this question--that answer will be given publicly, on the record, by the administration. By sending the council such a sloppy, incorrect budget, the administration has done a real disservice to the people of this city. Where is the budget oversight on the part of the administration? I am galled by the fact that, once again, the administration has the head of one department (Mr. Jackson, of DPWUD) being asked to step into an acting role in the absence of the city administrator. 

It is simply not fair that a department head should be asked, suddenly, to take on the role of his superior and answer questions about items that are not normally within his purview. This dual role certainly cannot be helpful to advancing his agenda for the Public Works Department, which has several divisions of its own reporting to him--including Planning, Recreation, Inspections, Economic Development, Community Development, and the Public Works folks at the City Yard. 

In addition, it is inconceivable that the city administrator would not be present for this most critical aspect of a budget process he is responsible for presenting and explaining to the governing body. It is not right for the administration to keep playing musical chairs with these "acting" titles. It is wrong for the mayor to willfully pad the budget with hundreds of thousands of dollars in some areas, while ignoring the needs of the community as a whole. It is a continuing affront to the people of this city. 

Rebecca

5 comments:

  1. Put their feet to the fire, Rebecca. Have a nice holiday.

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  2. You have said it was late at night. Did the guy get a chance to present all of the details of his budget for IT? If it was late, then was he able to present everything? If not then what does that mean?

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    1. Hi, Anonymous--yes, he finished giving his presentation to us. We had some additional questions, which have been answered. The question of how Administration and Finance--the department over IT--has seen fit to try to add 9 new civil service positions will be answered by its director, Al Restaino, when he returns. We have scheduled a special meeting to review budget amendments this Thursday, 5/31 at 7:00 pm at City Hall Library!

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  3. Maybe you can answer this, no one seems to want to answer this question posted on various blogs:
    Someone needs to investigate what happens to the $200,000 given to the city by Verizon every year to maintain the public access channel for the non-existent Media department. They never see a dime of it. So where does that money go? How many salaries would that cover to keep the channel up and running? Expenses? Equipment? When they film the city council meetings and other community events, the team then edits and uploads the video footage to the channel, none of this is done by the outside contractors that get paid from $60.00 to $100.00 an hour just for the filming alone, while the seasonal employees get paid $14.00 an hour. Hmmmm.... I wonder what would happen if Verizon gets wind of this???

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    1. The money generated by the franchise fees from Verizon and Comcast are put into the general fund. It is my understanding that this is where the money must go. When I was running the station several years ago (for the 20 months I worked there), I asked the same question. The city administrator should be able to answer this question comprehensively. Perhaps it would be a good idea to have him at the next advisory board meeting. I will request his presence.

      Sincerely,

      Rebecca

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