Posted by: Dawn Powell | October 16, 2011

Budget 2012

Tomorrow night’s meeting is cancelled!!! 10 – 26 -2011 Town Board 

October 19, 2011

Budget Work Session

Watch last Wednesday’s budget meeting.  They are planning to override the 2% cap, borrow $169,000 from fund balance, give raises to management, and all without a number for this year’s highway contract, or next year’s.  Who knew Bob was balancing the budget without taking teamster salaries into consideration.  How have you allowed him to get away with this stuff for 9 years?  9 years guys!  Gene gave a very good explanation of the fund balance, saying that it is like taking money from savings, and then next year, you have to pay for that part of the budget, and any new increases from revenue (taxes).  Sam O, who has criticized this practice in the past, was very supportive this time.

Three people now have told Bob that you need to have a policy for management increases, rather than politics.  There I go editorializing again.  They didn’t say the politics part.  Bob got mad at them.  He wants them to submit their comments in writing.  Anything to avoid public process.    There was a written policy that said that management salaries would follow union increases, but that’s not really a policy, and it certainly hasn’t been followed. They favor some people.  Since the teamsters have no contract, how would you even know what the increases would be? And should management get increases if there’s no union contract?

Bob thinks that the 2% tax cap is artificially low and he’s not sticking to it anyway.

They have cut the Bell Hollow Bridge repairs out of the budget.  I haven’t heard mention of the Lovers Lane Bridge in years.  Someone told me that the Sprout Brook Road Bridge is in bad shape.  Oh well..  They took out a new truck expense in the highway department budget, and they cut the road rehabilitation amount.

I guess the cats survived – the 600 bucks.  That must make Bob a good guy.  On the county level, the legislators have voted, minus Tony Hay and Dan Birmingham, to defund the Putnam Humane Society, and fund the SPCA.  While the enforcement capabilities of the SPCA are needed in this county, many are concerned that there will be inadequate “no-kill” sheltering, long provided by Putnam Humane.  This change was not recommended by County Executive Paul Eldridge, and it was not publicly vetted.

Tomorrow night, candidate debate at the high school, 7PM.

Wednesday night, Town Board votes to override the 2% tax cap.

Adopt cats.  Buy bagels.  Save sea turtles.

Pardon the turkeys.  And kick the bums out.

DP

 

The October 5, 2011 budget meeting for the 2012 budget is highly entertaining.  I recommend it.

 Bob has been negotiating with the highway department union, the Teamsters, for 2 years, and has come up empty.  There has been no contract this year.  In his 9 long years at bat in the public sector, this is his only Teamsters negotiation and he has flunked.  We are going into winter with no contract with the highway department.  We are going into 2012 budget discussions with no idea of what the 2012 highway department will cost, and for that matter, with no idea of what the 2011 contract will cost.  That is so incredibly incompetent.

 Bob wants a raise, as always, and 17K in management increases, as always.  He and Bob Cinque talked about why management should get increases.  Maureen McLaughlin was allowed to speak at the end (Bob and Gene inexplicably do not allow questions or comments at work sessions).  She explained the need for a legitimate policy on salaries, instead of the PV hit or miss.  Bob says they have analyzed area salaries and ours are low.  But the truth of the matter is that salaries are set by unexplained political considerations, and hard feelings are nurtured.    Bob and his buds have raised management salaries every year of this economic crisis, although maybe not everyone’s.  Bob is being paid plenty for what he considers to be a part time job.  The TB should get a raise.  They rarely do.  But something should be cut to make that happen.

 Bob said, “You can’t get much more bare bones than this.”  He is wrong.  There has been no analysis of what government needs to do, and where they should be spending their money.  No planning.   We just seem to keep going in the same old rut.  Some of those ruts have to change, and I don’t see any signs of politicos changing their tunes. 

 I have to hand it to Marianne for taking the request to remove the $600 for the cats from the budget as part of the quest for tax savings with a straight face.  It was my favorite moment.  Bob cut the cats last year.  I’m sure you noticed the savings.  Now it is an election year, and he wants to seem warm and fuzzy.  He’s not.  And when he finally had his “indoor-outdoor” cats spayed after innumerable pregnancies, he used low cost vouchers, instead of springing for a private vet.  How about he takes the $600 from his own pocket?

 Local Changes to shoot for – We need to consolidate the local courts.  This current process is inefficient and expensive and insecure.  We need to consolidate the assessors’ offices instead of having property taxation based on different localities – sort of defines insanity, doesn’t it?  We need to consolidate tax collection.  We need to consolidate services with the schools, with the county, with the state.  And we need to clearly define the function of government, considering the values of the community.  That would mean listening to them.  If Jackie can run Town Day with a $4000 income, then let’s have her do that.  But if Mr. Cinque is proud that this year’s Sunset Series broke even, it should have been cut years ago.  He can have his little art club at private expense.  No value judgment on either event, but we do not need to pay for superfluous services to give the politicians a platform.  And why are the taxpayers in the Little League business? The 99% are cutting back.  So should the Town Board.

 Protect the environment, protect the taxpayers.  We need some fresh blood, some fresh thought.

 And we have to stop letting Bob spend tens or hundreds of thousands, and pass that on to the county taxpayers.  Yikes!  He really believes that it is not costing us money.

 Dump this guy.  You can get rid of Wendy in 2 years.  Or start a big write-in campaign.  Bob- O’s been there for 9 years.  He’s never going to get it.

 Bob started with the tax cap, and reassuring everyone that they can override it.  Then, he told us he has no control of most of the budget.  Then, he said we can borrow from the fund balance.

 He said gasoline has doubled since the 2011 budget??  It has?

 9.7% increase in the tentative highway budget.  6.7% for the Town.  They will get that down, but we’ll have to see how. 

 After the bad winters and the hurricane, Bob finally understands that we can’t continue to cut the blacktop budget.  (But it was a good way to beat up Sam.)

 Bob promised Frank that he could be first up.  So the first area for discussion was Parks and Recreation.  I have issues.

 Bob wouldn’t allow questions.

 Then John Landi spoke about the building department budget.  Since they have eliminated the deputy code enforcement officer, they have money to burn.  They didn’t talk about increased legal fees.  New, bigger homes have been paying lower fees.  That will be changed.  How long has Mr. Landi been there?  He wants a raise.  He’s probably working 600 hours a week.

 Then Gary got up to talk about the highway department budget.  The department seems about to erupt.  They need more money for parts.  They are already $37K over the 2011 budgeted amount.  He wants to lower the highway equipment bond, delay getting a big truck until next year.  They will save $66K by eliminating his position.  That item aroused crowd response, but Bob was very short-tempered.  He has decreased the amount spent on uniforms.  They paved 5.7 miles of road surface this year, and want to continue that level.  He wants to increase salt.  Fuel costs have increased.  They need machinery upgrades and the highway building is in bad condition.  He wants $60K for road reclamation for longer lasting road surface.  I don’t know what that process is, but it sounds reasonable. (They cut it out.)

 Bob says, “There comes a point where you can’t cut anymore.”  Wouldn’t it have been nice if we had long term plans instead of political posturing? 

 Gary thinks we may be able to wait a year before repairing the Bell Hollow Bridge.  The estimate doesn’t include the cost of culverts and cranes.

 There is supposed to be reimbursement coming for work done for Lake Oscawana.  I’m still wondering about the financial Town Highway – Lake Oscawana connection.  Now I’m wondering about LP too.

 Donald Earle got up to talk about how low the truck maintenance and tire lines are.  He also mentioned the Lake Peekskill truck problems.  Lake Peekskill’s budget committee recommended a truck fund so that the community would be able to keep its garbage pickup going.  Sam and Gary were instrumental in upgrading the equipment.  In only 4 years, Bob has destroyed that planning, and the committee gave up advocating for the district against the brick wall who only wants parties.  It is ridiculous.

 So Bob’s response was anger that Donald had come to the meeting to discuss it, when he should have gone to Gary.  Except Donald was right.  Bob is the one who mishandles the Lake Peekskill district.  It does not come under Gary’s jurisdiction.

 So Bob will just have his parties.  Quite awhile back, Gene suggested that perhaps the Lake Peekskill garbage district was not the most effective way to proceed, but I haven’t heard anything more about that.  Even longer ago, there was talk of merging the districts for garbage collection, either expanding the LP district or including it in the district contract.  No one has bothered to look at the most cost effective approach. 

 I haven’t looked at the district budget after they got through with it.  No input was wanted. The LP district will go nowhere until we get rid of those guys.

 Then, there is the demolition.  The blue house.  The owners were up to date on their taxes, and the inhabited house across the street is falling apart and in arrears for years.  But Bob hated the blue one, so you spent $54K to tear it down.  Plus legal fees.  And Bob believes that we don’t actually have to pay for it because the county will cover his extravagance.  Last time I looked the county is us too.

 Sam Davis’ photovoltaics will be installed sometime.  It only took them 6 years, and you would have been saving that money all this time.  But politics is far more important than the taxpayers.  

 There will have to be another court officer who has some medical certification.  Bob wants to make some security changes to the court, construction changes.  They are needed, if the court stays.  Usually the Unified Court system pays for those changes, not us.  I think Bob plans to use Uncle Vinnie’s (Senator Leibell) pork for it.  But really, we don’t need a town court.

 Now that we don’t need it to house all those paper files.  The Town Clerk’s office has started the process of scanning files and transmitting them electronically.  Yay!!!  That has to spread to other departments, and to Town Board meetings.  Lots of trees killed.  Lots of paper wasted.  And time.  Eileen said that it has already saved time.  I’m happy to hear it.  Now how about dragonspeak or whatever for minutes, and laptops for Board meetings?  I’m just giddy with excitement.  And then let’s post those minutes!

 Jackie wanted to know why there have been jobs cut, and other things, but the budget keeps going up.  It was a good question.

 2nd budget meeting – management raises still being kicked around, $246K in to fund the retirement program for the fire department.

 Road reclamation is out.

 180K taken out of the fd request. 

 $100K was taken from the fund balance.

 A 3.47% increase in highway.  No mention of their historically low fund balance.

 Louis Luongo did a good presentation of the costs for the fire department.  Other than that, the first budget  meeting is the one to watch.

 Bob said, “You can’t get much more bare bones than this.”  Déjà vu!  He also pronounced politicos as politickos, with emphasis on the 3rd syllable.  Interesting.  He seems to think he’s not one.

 Adopt cats.  Buy bagels.  Save sea turtles.

 And free the turkeys.

 DP


Responses

  1. It amazes me that in a town as small as PV you have all these overlaying districts rather than using 1 department to cover the entire town. I still fail to see why LP needs its own Post Office but that is a whole other argument. As is the idea of Town Courts….why do these little towns all have their own courts? Wouldn’t it be more economical to do all the courts at the county level?

    Economic crisis means no one gets a raise Bob and if he’s entertaining the idea of raising taxes beyond the 2% cap while giving himself and his department head friends a raise then he might as well not seek reelection.

    What message are you sending Bob when your eliminating positions but giving raises to the people who killed the jobs?


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