10/20 Budget Hearing: First round of proposed cuts

2010 City Civil Budget

Notes from the Fort Wayne City Council Budget Hearing on October 20, 2009.

This post covers notes from the proposed first round of budget cuts for the 2010 Civil City Budget discussion.

Tom Didier – feels the wage increase needs to come out of the budget for this year.  He will be looking at travel budgets.  Would like to see two versus four  Neighborhood Advocates.

Glynn Hines – strongly supports the 1.5% increase.  He’s impressed with job done by Liz Brown and Administration.  “All of us have seen a lot cleaner budget come down.”

Karen Goldner – I’ve gone back and forth on the employee raise.  They didn’t get a raise last year.  I’ve asked for no raises for elected officials.

John Shoaff – I totally agree that elected officials should not get raises except for one – the City Clerk as she doesn’t

Tim Pape – four slides.  Three things we do  in a budget – What amount of money can we raise?  Controlled by the State.  What we spend.  Where do we spend it.  First question has been taken off because of circuit breakers and reduction in levy.  Budget is about how we’re going to reinvest in ourselves.  Community-based budgeting.  Tied more to citizens.  “I think the budgeting is too-far removed from the citizenry.”  “What do we need to do to get more performance out of government.”  Discussing wage cuts is not going to get the best return for citizen money.  Cutting elected officials raises, what does it really do?  Just get rid of the salaries if we’re really serious about leadership.  Employee moral is significant in an organization’s performance.  A lot of areas, employees have more responsibilities, and you want to reward that.

Glynn Hines – Travel – training is attached to it.  Those things absolutely enhance an employee’s performance.  I challenge you, (Tom Didier) to spend time with the Neighborhood Advocates.  There is value to advocates and their experience.  “I’m real sensitive to what they do and their workload and amount of relief they bring.”  I’m easily willing to say I don’t need a 1.5% increase.  We need to do our due diligence and I applaud Councilwoman Brown for doing this.

Councilman Harper – “The responsibility that this governmental unit has shown, in terms of being very conservative on property taxes, keeps a faith with a lot of people who are worried about staying in their homes, in particular seniors.”  We’ve raised sewer rates substantially.  We just don’t have the property taxes – have to take the other things in consideration as well.  They’re the same dollars that come out of people’s pockets.

CEDIT – we’ve had several bonds approved.  Pitching that we should get away from bonding in anticipation and rather build up some savings which would eliminate the borrowing costs and interest.

Karen Goldner – Sewer rates have been raised because the Federal Government has mandated it.  Let’s not kid ourselves, if we don’t raise them, we’d pay it in fines.  This hasn’t been to have parties in City Utilities nor have new cars…  On CEDIT – we’re talking about Capital Infrastructure improvements will be completed in three years which will last 20 years.

John Shoaff – could break out the projects and put some of them off.  I think we could be much more careful and tighter on the bond issues.

Glynn Hines – The consent decree was mandated.  There’s a lot of infrastructure needs that need to be addressed.  Long-term planning for the future of the community.

Mitch Harper – I don’t see how you can say it’s just federal mandates.  Do we want to be a City that sends our raw sewage down the river?  It’s a long time of neglect that we need to address.  We’re borrowing for 20 years for three years of work.

Tim Pape – you’re not purchasing a year for three years.  Often time, they’re 40 years of roads.  I’m willing to pay the interest for the use of that road over 40 years.  Citizens want services like infrastructure projects.

John Shoaff – no one’s arguing you don’t get a long term benefit, just the urgency of certain projects.    “We are making choices in this community between traffic improvements and preservation of neighborhood values.”

Liz Brown – I agree with Shoaff and Harper on the allocation of CEDIT dollars.  I think proposing a 1.5% percent pay increase wasn’t the type of leadership I expected.  What I would like to see, is how we’re going to fill the hole going forward.  How do we know expenses will go up 3%?  Able to provide the rate increase because rest of budget kept flat.  It’s not addressing the shortfall.  We’re not going to inspire people by giving them a couple of hundred more.  Department heads have done a good job of keeping their head counts low, however, still providing good services.  There is a point where we could bank the money and get away from CEDIT bonding.

We still need to look below the wage lines – it’s not good, there is room for cuts.  I’d rather see us prove there is no money elsewhere before raising any taxes.  How are we going to prepare for the future?  The administration can still move things around as they see fit.

Tom Smith – Income tax is not just for City of Fort Wayne, rather for other entities as well.  We’ve got to be able to lead by example.  We need to take leadership role and scrutinize their budgets to make sure they’ve cut.  We’re dealing with all other taxing entities in County.  We are going to be setting the bar for the rest.  We’d better be able to say we’ve done all we can.

Tim Pape – The 1.5% increase is more than a couple of hundred dollars.  $50,000 salary would be $750.  Cutting the budget will not be cutting the amount we collect, but rather the amount we spend, which cutting the raise would result in more savings.

Cuts should be to City Clerk Kennedy by noon Friday.

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