A couple of issues caught my eye:
First, Commissioner Raja seems to trumpet the savings of limiting COLA raises for employees in 2010 by pegging the COLA to the current low inflation numbers. Forget that fact that this seems to treat people differently just because they don't have a union, does anyone really think that inflation is going to stay low? Or regardless of how it goes up and down, are we now saying to the employees that whatever the inflation number is at the end of the year you will get that raise when the number exceeds 3%?
Commissioner Raja also made a reference to paying for “expenses from the fund balance.” He said that he would “have preferred to implement organic changes that could have funded these increases on a sustainable basis going forward.”
An example of his “organic changes” seems to be the merger of the Assistant Manager and Finance Director positions. If I understood the budget broadcast, the merger of the two positions was unanimously approved by the Commission. The debate seemed to be about what would happen to the Assistant Managers HR duties. Raja wanted those duties distributed amongst other staff while the majority supported the managers recommendation of hiring a new HR person. It was said that having a separate HR position was one of the Matrix report recommendations.
Commissioner Raja said that if the majority had agreed with him we would have saved annually $141,000. Commissioner Miller said that the 2011 budget shortfall is already $3.14 million.
Commissioner Raja said that he recommended “organic changes” (notice the plural) that “could have funded these increases on a sustainable basis going forward.”
Anyone else interested in knowing what his organic suggestions were that would solve our problem? It would be great for Commissioner Raja to post his suggestions that were rejected by the Commission so we could evaluate them ourselves -- and if necessary -- lobby other Commissioners to adopt them!
Additionally, I saw that the majority did not support a strategic planning process in 2010. Given the size of our problem for 2011, I wonder why this was not supported. Doesn't the municipality need a plan - and need it quickly?