Monday, October 26, 2009

The Budget - The connection between reduction in services and your tax money

a one hundred dollar bill colectionImage via Wikipedia
Ask yourself this question: What is the maximum city debt allowed by a mayor, before the party starts to hound you out of office? If you understand politics, you will understand what I am saying here. We need to reduce the city's budget deficit. Jennings is always shifting focus off of the fact that he caused most of our budget problems to begin with due to his excessive tax and spend plans for 16 years and that the state and federal financial strains just compound on top of it, since Jennings relies so heavily on that money and landfill money which has given us a reduction in services for our money. We are paying more for less services, you cannot believe Jennings when he says there is no reduction in services. Let's take a look, beat cops were put in place per the residents and then removed, eliminating a service, two police stations were closed reducing a service, Livingston school was closed and certain teachers were fired from their jobs, and we still have children who cannot receive services they need to further their education. CDTA has eliminated many bus stops supposedly to reduce travel times, but it's reducing a service to you, by having to walk several long blocks out of the way to get to a stop, and keep in mind that snow is on the way. The recycling that is not picked up during the winter until the following week because the incumbent needs those people for snow plowing is a reduction in service; and the political fad of wanting to reduce the common council to save money is reducing a service by having less ward representatives to fight for you. The message that is being sent to you by them is that since you are consenting to less by who you voted for and have lived with it, they do not plan on returning these services to you and are continually looking for further reductions in services working against you in the name of saving money. The reality of it is your taxes are being constantly hiked up and so are fees and fines, and even more so in the incumbent's proposed 2010 budget, giving them even more of your money for their use and even less in return for you from your money. That is why we need to vote for new elected officials who have no ties to the incumbent, like myself, who will work for the residents and not against them or the problems will continue on. This trend needs to end and the people need to wake up. Due to Jennings inept practices, many residents and businesses left the city and taht due to the population decreasing it puts Albany in a different size category, which in turn will also decrease the amount of federal and state aid to begin with. Jennings is lying to all the residents when he says "we have provided a high level of services to ensure a high quality of life to our residents". Quote from 2010 proposed budget letter to the common council. Jennings goes on to say "...tried to make the cuts in such a way so as to not impact the quality of essential services critical to public safety and quality of life." As you read above, Jennings words to not coincide with the reality we have had to deal with because of him; and Ellis's only money cut was the salary by 20% if elected. We need a mayor who will be able to make the hard decisions and make cuts something that Ellis obviously would not due, given his answer, and as we have seen Jennings has not done it either to not upset his political cronies, all at the taxpayers expense. Under Johnson's administration we will increase services to our residents and here is where the money is going to come from. We need to look into contractual expenditures, especially under contracted services, in every department, to see what can be done in house. Jennings says he is "going green" but in his budget he is estimating making $820,000.00 from the acceptance of petroleum contaminated soil which they are using as cover material, $20,000.00more than 2009, while he has the hopes of making $1,035,452,00 off of it like he did in 2008. This is totally not acceptable. This compounds on top of the already growing problem we have, and I did not see Ellis say anything about this. You cannot be pro pine bush during an election year Corey, and not understand the connections and causes of the problems. On page 10 under Sale of Recyclables in 2009 and in 2010 it is the same amount $200,000.00, $45,629.00 less than in 2008. This shows yet another area of lack of vision on jennings part. This figure should not have gone down but increased due to new innovative plans, such as mine, for example, that will sell bottles to New York State bottle manufacturers who make wine bottles, to increase revenue to reduce taxes for the residents. Steal that idea Jerry, just ask me first how to do it correctly. We need a mayor who will be able to make the hard decisions and cut the fat. Ellis never made mention of anything he would cut out of the budget, which will not save money. The Johnson administration will save the residents $476,600 over 4 years, by elminating the Deputy Mayor's position. The common council president is who is next in line to be mayor if anything happens to him, and that position needs to be utilized more effectively for such purposes. Elimination of one deputy treasurer saving $319,712 over 4 years, elimination of the special deputy city treasurer saving $184,064.00 over 4 years. Eliminating one position from the corporation counsel's office saving $245,256.00 over 4 years. Total savings so far over 4 years: $749,032.00. Worker's compensation needs to be looked into as to what is causing the problem and in what departments. Many city workers have complained about working 14 hour days and also working on Saturdays too, while other city workers cannot get the overtime they want in the same department. We need to make sure that fatigue is not causing unwanted injuries, we need a functional well rested crew to defray these costs. Police officers seem to be hired only when Jennings gets grant money, which is part of the problem. Only 10 police officers will be hired through a federal grant specifically designated for that purpose. The amount of the grant is $622,000.00. The point here is if every entry level police officer makes around $44,000.00 a year that is about $440,000.00. Since this is specifically for hiring what is Jerry planning on doing with the other $182,000.00? We could hire a couple more officers with that money to help reduce crime, but he's not. There is also police federal aid of $154,000.00. What is this money allotted for, how will it be used to increase our safety? Quite a bit of money for police, lets make sure it is used correctly. The priority needs to be on being able to pay all officers overtime when needed especially on our streets, that needs to be budgeted for, not just OT for cops on detal work at sites such as the Pepsi Arena. The city needs to reduce borrowing through bonds for the amount of interest is killing us. Interest payments on bonds will be $24,735,975.00. We also need to reduce the amount of leasing, that interest is $433,057.00. The city should not be using $5,261,000.00 of the fund balance towards the 2010 budget. Central Maintenance is costing us in contractual expenses alone $1,255,000.00. Central Garage is way out of hand, costing $4,109,557, and $3,634,000.00 for contractual expenses. If we have that many vehicles that need that much repair, it is in the city's best interest to purchase new vehicles, which I would do to reduce these figures, also the $68,000.00 grant Jennings got to retrofit vehicles is basically a waste of money, and several vehicles are very old and need to be sold at auction and new ones purchased. Why is no one on the common council asking for itemization for these things. Why is no one asking for an itemization for A1900 Special Items - Contractual Expenses are $4,255,000.00, for what? For A5182 Street Lighting, it can be in better working order than it is for having a contractual expense of $4,175,000.00. Under my plans, we would be installing small solar panels on the tops of these lights to save money. Here are other problems that need to be addressed. Under Income, pg 10 under licenses and permits, #2553-board up fees, $0 in 2008, $15,000.00 in 2009 and up to $18,000.00 in 2010. You cannot expect Jennings to eliminate blight when he is choosing to use it as a source of income for the budget; also his vacant building registry was $45,000 in 2009 up to $110,000.00 in 2010. Again, making money off of blight, Jennings will never solve it, when it is profitable for him. A1670 - Central Services provides copying and mailing services for city departments, than why not the Common Council, it would save the common council $8,000.00? Even the budget itself could have printed on every page and formatted differently to save paper. Postage in central services is up by $3,000 in 2010 to $118,000.00 and the Common council is paying $50,000.00 in postage alone. Why can't the common council use central services and try to reduce costs for printing/binding/postage overall. What is being farmed out that the city can purchase supplies for and do it in house. Page 11, Fines and Forfeitures under miscellaneous in 2008 $107,081, in 2009 $0, but in 2010 $100,000, what fees is Jennings looking at increasing or bringing back, and why isn't anyone questioning what Jennings is proposing in this budget except for me. The Common Council needs to wake up and fully read the budget and think about it. A3410 Fire Emergency and Bldg. Services - $1,309,000.00 for contractual expenses and A3120 Police Department $1,743,000.00 for contractual expenses. Professional/technical services in each department that uses this category needs to be looked at to see how to consolidate services or reduce it down. Don't believe that since they did away with the comptroller's office and relabelled it the City Auditor's office, that they will help reduce expenses either, because they are bringing in their own auditor to monitor their problems and contain them, not eliminate them. If the common council really believed that there was a problem with the budget in years past, or even this year, they could have called upon the state to audit every city department and they did not. that is why it is very important to vote new people in, who will not continue on this bad and dangerous path for our residents, but at the same time, when voting in new people, make sure they have no connections to the incumbent, did not just switch parties within the past 5 years just to run for public office, and make sure that they are not people who run for any and every position they can, they usually are plants put in by the very same people that you want out.
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