Monday, June 13, 2011

Proposed budget amendments

The county commission tomorrow at 3 p.m. inside the Deathstar will vote on county Mayor Tim Burchett's proposed budget.

There's been a lot of talk about this one, but there should never have been any surprises. Burchett said he was going to cut the heck out of a lot of things when he campaigned. And cut he did.

This morning the mayor and the county's Financial Minister, John Troyer, were on the radio talking about the budget. A few minutes later, Commissioner Amy Broyles and The Man with the Badge, Sheriff Jimmy “J.J.” Jones got on to talk about some of Broyles proposed changes that would give employees raises – something they haven't had in four or so years.

In the meantime, there's a number of other proposed budget amendments that commissioners have thrown around, not the least of which is Mike Brown's idea – I don't think anyone has talked about this one yet – that would give employees the summer off.

This morning, the fine folks at the county commission office/department, sent me over the “2nd Revision” proposed budget amendments. It was dated last Thursday (June 9).

So, in case you're not keeping up, here's a look at the proposals:

Chairman Mike Hammond: Reinstate each commissioner's $3,000 slush fund, I mean discretionary fund. But, they won't get to spend this coin at will. Items must be placed on the agenda for commissioners to vote. They also must be put on the commission website. And each request must define how the money will be used.

Commissioner Sam McKenzie: Add $138,000 to the Beck Cultural Center; reinstate $50,0000 to KAT Seniors Ride Free Program; reinstate $66,000 to the slush fund; add $25,000 back to commissioner's travel to reinstate the $300 a month in coin they used to get until the mayor cut it and suggested they fill out mileage reimbursement forms. He also wants to cut $364,000 in additional money to the engineering department that was supposed to pave roads – none of which will be in his district, since it's city-inclusive. And, he wants to suspend the $2.8 million Outlet Drive project. He says the net savings will be $85,000.

Vice Chairman Brad Anders: Eliminate the Great Schools Partnership Budget ($2.6 million) to use for a 2 percent employee pay increase. He also wants to reinstate the commission travel allowance.

Commissioner Amy Broyles: She wants to add a 3 percent step increase for county workers, increase the Ijams budget, revisit the Legacy Parks budget, revisit employee layoffs; eliminate HOPE Resource Center budget and reinstate $75,000 to the KAT program. Broyles' plan would take about $3.5 million from the additional $5 million the mayor's budget proposes to pay down the debt.

Commissioner Mike Brown: He wants to cut payroll expense by letting workers leave at 2:30 p.m. and/or by letting them take off for the summer. (There are so many things wrong with this plan if you're a county worker, I couldn't even begin to describe them. If you're a resident, then be happy because it would actually save a whole lot more money than Brown anticipates, since the employees won't be getting insurance, either. Ever.) He also wants to add a 2 percent increase for county workers by taking money out of the rainy day fund.


Brian Paone said...

You're missing one, homey.

Jeff Ownby told me yesterday that he'd be speaking to John Troyer about funding a pay raise for individuals making $40,000 or less using some of the extra debt paydown monies (but by no means all - he doesn't even want to use half of it if he can help it, from what I gather). But give him a call and get it straight from his mouth.

From what I understand, he's extremely conflicted about using that debt paydown money to fund 'em, but understands something has to be done to get the rank-and-file in the City County Building a bit more gas money. (Hot DAMN, is fuel expensive nowadays! No shortage of iPhones and iPads, but try finding a cheap gallon of gas!)

As far as the proposals here:

* HAMMOND: No. Just... no. Commissioner Hammond, now is exactly the wrong time to be putting more of our money into your pockets to be doled out to . I'd rather see the slush fund money (you had it right the first time, Donila) pooled and split between the county's volunteer fire/rescue outfits. Again - gas is expensive.

Especially if they've got to be driving all over the damn place just to find some decent water pressure.

* MCKENZIE - Damn, kid, have you even HAD a good idea, let alone tried to support one? At least Chairman Hammond was proposing going back to the original slush fund amount and putting it on lockdown. Do you really, honestly think your constituents (that means "bosses", just so you know) want you to DOUBLE that money WITHOUT any controls?

And the travel budget? Hell, next thing you'll want is a fully-appointed pickup truck a la Bill Lockett.

And all of this funded not out of the extra debt service payment, but out of PUBLIC FUCKING WORKS.

...and you're supposed to be a physicist or something? I'm starting to wonder if SNS didn't take you in as part of Operation Bootstrap. (Thank you, President Ford. And points if anyone gets the reference.)

The only idea you have that doesn't suck out loud is restoring $50,000 to the KAT Senior program, and that can be done with a drop of the extra debt service money - not by taking it our of the damned roads. (Really? You're a SCIENTIST?! No fucking wonder we're so damned far behind globally in so many areas of research!) And if we're going to do THAT, might as well go whole-hog and reinstate all of the Senior Centers' budgets back to full. Which I noticed you didn't suggest.

(I can't believe this guy works at SNS. I really can't. But anyway.)


Brian Paone said...

(from prev)

* ANDERS: YOU want to reinstate a travel allowance too? What the HELL, man?! I expect that out of a McKenzie or a Moore, but YOU?!

Still, $2.6 million IS a lot of bonus money. Donila, where can one go to find out more information about how, exactly, this Great Schools Partnership is supposed to work? Maybe taking half of that and the rest from the debt service overpayment might work. Don't know.

But yeah, no way should the commissioners get travel allowances or slush funds. This ain't DC, kids. Keep yer mitts off the cash until you're told to spend it. No bombing around on our dime. Do it on yours. After all, you're the guys that wanted the job. Take it on the taxpayers' terms or go do something else.

* BROYLES: Gotta say, it's not a TERRIBLE idea. She's the first to think of it that I know of, and frankly it's a sound bit of thinking. This woman knows how to manage living on a lack of cash, though, so I'm not surprised at the creativity.

What I AM surprised at is her desire to cut the $8k the Hope Resource Center's supposed to be getting. HRC's actually not a bad idea. I've always thought more anti-abortion folks should make more places like Hope and spend a lot less time scaring/intimidating/shaming the bejeezus out of women outside of abortion clinics.

Also, I don't think anyone over a certain amount deserves any more of a raise. I don't really give a damn what kind of lifestyles they're funding and a raise after a certain point is a pretty lousy reward. But that's just my opinion. Yours may vary.

(Or, as Pammy "Mencia" Strickland now likes to say - "that's just my take - your mileage may vary". Clever stuff, Pammy! How'd you come up with that gem, anyway? Just came to you?)

* BROWN: It's definitely an interesting idea, but yeah, Donila's right, Commissioner. It's going to do a lot more damage to the workers in question than can be justified with the savings.

Also, don't make the Ragsdalian mistake of raiding the rainy day fund for pay raises. It sucks to say, because my generation's gonna be stuck with the damn bill, but the prudent move is taking SOME (not all, or even half) of the debt service overpayment and give the LITTLE guys (if it were me, everyone making $75,001 or more would be boned regardless) a proper raise.

But I do like the "outside-of-the-box" thinking.

I'm also interested to see what the commissioners (and Mr. McKenzie) think about a charter amendment that puts property tax increases back under the final say of the voter, and not some of these guys that just want to go nuts with our cash.

(Is it me, Donila, or has your tone changed recently? It's still got the sarcasm, but it seems to have lost a bit of the sardonic, rambling edge it used to have. It's a much better read, for what it's worth.)

Mike Donila said...

Ha, the tone varies depending on mood, how much time I have and how awake I am. (And right now I'm looking for a pillow.)

Regarding the Great School money. From what I understand this is the part that the county can actually touch but it goes toward paying teachers based on their performance.

Anonymous said...

Brown's idea is a terrible one (and I'm NOT a county worker). Who's supposed to provide county services in the summer if all the employees are on vacation?

Mike Donila said...

anonymous: Good point.

Anonymous said...

I know where they could whack an easy $100K – eliminate the assistant elections administrator position. Scotty Frith himself said it's unnecessary and that the office is overstaffed. Talk about a no-brainer!!!

Won't happen, though. He's a BoB (Buddy of Burchett)

Anonymous said...

There is around $250,000 that could be trimmed from MPC. No one is developing anything. Their staff is bloated for even boom times. Mike, stroll through the MPC office sometime. You won't believe it.