Mayor's Budget Guts and Cuts But Misses the Fat

On Monday, April 18, Mayor Jerry Sanders appeared in council chambers to present the fiscal year 2012 budget to the legislative branch for consideration.

"The good news is our revenues are starting to rebound, albeit slightly," Sanders said. "The bad news, despite the progress we are making, we still have to make service cuts to bring expenditure in line with revenues."

In order to solve the City's $56.7 million estimated deficit for next year, while adding some color to the browned-out fire stations, the mayor proposes cutting library hours to just over 18 hours a week, limiting recreation centers to an average of 20 hours per week, and chopping 248 positions citywide, among other reductions.

"Without question, the cuts I am proposing will be painful," Sanders said during his presentation.

According to Mark Leonard, the city's director of financial management, the following two years will see much of the same in terms of budget expenditures. For 2013's budget, Leonard predicts another $41 million in reductions.

"My concern about this budget is it guts and cuts frontline service but it keeps all the fat and actually adds fat to the layers of management," said councilmember DeMaio.

DeMaio pointed to figures that the library department's overhead is seeing a $518,000 increase while cutting the branch libraries by $4.6 million. DeMaio also noted that the cost to run the branch libraries, such as utilities, was increasing despite previous cuts made to the department.

In response, chief financial officer Mary Lewis said it was likely a budgetary adjustment.

Later, during councilmember comment, council president Tony Young reminded his colleagues of the work ahead of them.

"After the mayor's presentation, then it's our budget, and we are going to have to make decisions as to what it looks like. I would be very disappointed if this budget looks the same at the end of our process. We cannot say, 'The mayor made us do it.’"

City councilmembers will debate the separate departmental budgets during budget hearings in the coming weeks.

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This is not surprising, the mayor cut jobs that are needed, keeps whole sections that are not needed and can be done by a fraction of the people. There are Divisions in the City that keep many positions only to justify a program manager´s position or other people brought from the street and made managers over professionals; usually due to old time friendships and loyalty issues. Restructuring consultants don´t interview emplyees in private to hear their point of views. At the contrary, the Deputy Director assigns who speaks with the restructuring folks, or at least he/she (the DD) has to be present and controls the conversation. Often the problem is the existance of the Deputy Director him/herself or his/herfriend who happens to be a person holding another unclassified position. If the mayor wants to really cut unnecessary positions, he needs to start to listen to employees at the bottom, without fear of retaliation. Talk to the accountants, engineers, etc. the real professionals, the´ll tell you (if they know what they say is really off the record). He really needs to clean at the top with information from the bottom, and looks who brought or promoted the ones in management; it could be his own friends, or friends of an old dinosaur who brought them in and they are covering up for each other. I know peole who had nightmares in some of these departments. Do you call this corruption? I don´t know!!!

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