11/09/2010

Budget 2011-Part 2 "Presentation"

Posted by MJ

11/11/10

The Buffalo News and the LUSJ both reported on the "quiet" budget public comment session last night at city hall.

...The vote is due at next Wednesday’s meeting of the Council. Genewick, Council President Richelle J. Pasceri, Alderwoman Flora M. McKenzie and Alderman Joseph C. Kibler said they support the budget. Alderman Jack L. Smith Jr. said he would vote no, while Alderman Andrew D. Chapman said he wants to try to interest his colleagues in further cuts.
But Chapman said the Council already has achieved a lot. “If we hadn’t done anything [with the original budget], it would have been a 19 percent increase,” he said. “When we started this process, we were facing long odds,” Mayor Michael W. Tucker told the audience at the hearing. “We always hear, ‘Do things differently. Reduce the cost of government.’ That’s what we’re doing.”

The $21.4 million spending plan is nearly $1.8 million lower than this year’s, but $1.3 million of that reduction came because the garbage program has been deleted from the regular budget and is now a separate fund....
...Mullaney said that 24 jobs have been dropped from the budget and that privatizing the garbage service accounts for only 11 of those. The other jobs were vacated by retirements in the last month, he said, and only one or two are being filled...
The articles mention that only three people spoke and non were set against the garbage plan. Be sure to get your spring cleaning done early! ;)

 

11/10/10

Another LUSJ article on the garbage transfer comparing it to the attempt back in 1991 to do the same.
...A glance back at the US&J headlines 19 years ago shows striking similarities between then and now. In the midst of another budget crisis, another Common Council is wrestling with the same bear of a problem: How to maintain expected services without gouging taxpayers. Trash collection is in the mix in both crisis periods primarily because of demand for recycling, but also because big-ticket items are naturally open to scrutiny in fiscal tough times...
Getting employee's out of the city system is crucial when their overall costs are taken into account. Seen here is the looming public pension crisis for a number of NYS municipalities.
...There isn’t a moment to waste in pushing for changes to alter what is otherwise a collision course with dire consequences. Taxpayers cannot afford to continue supporting public employee health insurance into retirements, bolstering a model designed during a time in which this area had high-paying manufacturing jobs and public jobs tended to be lower paying with rich benefits. Manufacturing jobs have been lost and public employee salaries are higher now than aver-age private sector ones. What’s left is the legacy of a rich benefits package without the tax base to support it...



A Buffalo news article mentioning Erie County's current tactic of not using surplus' to cover re-occuring expenses.
...The moral of the story became: Don’t pay everyday, recurring expenses with nonrecurring income. Reserve money is considered nonrecurring one-shot money. When you spend it, it’s gone. Today’s county government money managers, including those at the control board, agree with the strategy to pay everyday expenses only with recurring income— income from sales taxes and property taxes, primarily...
This is not being proposed this year but it was done last year and had to be accounted for in this year's budget.

As a reminder. The public comment session is tonight at city hall.

11/9/10

The Buffalo News and   LUSJ has reported on the current budget status heading into tomorrow's public comment session at city hall.

The Common Council’s tentative 2011 city budget calls for a 69-cent tax rate cut.
Once trash collection is privatized and a flat pickup fee is levied, however, many property taxpayers will see a year-over-year increase in city living costs.
The garbage pickup fee is presently estimated to be $124 per “unit,” meaning per single-family home, apartment, business or other type property occupant, even tax-exempt users.
Average residential property assessment is $79,000. If the 2011 budget is approved, the average tax bill will fall to $1,247, down about $12 from this year’s bill, but when the $124 is added onto the 2011 bill, the average property owner’s cost of living here will rise $112.
Only when assessed property value is $179,000 does the owner “break even” on the city’s removal of refuse collection costs from the budget, according to calculations by 4th Ward Alderman Andy Chapman. Only where property is assessed for more than $179,000 will the owner see a true cut in city living costs...
Here is the current preliminary budget spreadsheet as of today (11/9)

Smith proposed to lay off five police officers by shifting dispatching duties to the Niagara County’s Sheriff’s Office.
“You can’t arbitrarily make that decision in a week [before the budget vote],” Tucker said. “Not only are you affecting the five people who are losing their jobs, you’re affecting this community.”
“We’ll be looking at public safety in the next year,” Council President Richelle J. Pasceri said. “Our population base is dwindling. Our tax base is dwindling. These numbers are too big to lay on taxpayers’ shoulders year after year.”
A reminder that we can only cut ourselves so much before we have nothing let to offer. The end vision should be creating a place that will draw new people to build income/taxible value.

The trash has partially come out, incrimental raises are paid for and we are borrowing for the new pumper. How are we feeling?

Previsous Budget 2011 discussion is here: Budget 2011-Part 1 "Requests"

22 comments:

Rocketboy said...

Man, I wish I owned one of the few houses that are assessed at over $175k so I could save on taxes...

*sigh*

MJ said...

I'm not sure that's the debate, unless you are being sarcastic. State aid was being cut, incremental raises were due and we were out of "rainy day funds" to delay more cuts. Taxes were going to go up since we obviously didn't add new taxable value/properties in kind.

Seeing that the houses over $175k will actually see a lower overall levy (tax plus trash fee), I feel it only shows how much they were overpaying for trash pickup.

There needs to be long term contractual and policy planing moving forward to properly size the largest costs and get us acutally growing.

Rocketboy said...

More of a point that it's a rather interesting way of adjusting the costs, and really not what we've been told would happen. And by interesting way, I mean, well, not what we had been told to expect. Instead of doing it all at once, I think that they would have less resistance if it was normalized over a 5 year span. I am glad to see that tax exempt properties will finally start having to pay their way, but I also believe that rentals should be charged a slightly higher, and for businesses who do not use a dumpster, even higher. This way we can help spread the cost at a fairer rate. Apartments, due to the 'bad tenant clean out' days (I see a lot of those in the North End), and well, who hasn't seen some of the downtown businesses with a stack of garbage by the curb on trash day?

MJ said...

I'm not sure what you are reffering to when you say: "More of a point that it's a rather interesting way of adjusting the costs, and really not what we've been told would happen".

What was told that you are reffering to?

Anonymous said...

Over the past year when The fire dept lost/gave-up dispatch didn't the mayor and alderpeople say it would save $$$$ by goint to LPD, and now they say it is to expensive and it needs to go to Niag. Co.? Was this a kneejerk reaction to try and fix a more complicated problem and making it look like they had everything under control. ie. If you throw a bunch of crap on the wall whatever sticks works.

Rocketboy said...

MJ... we were told repeatedly that privatizing trash pickup would not cost more than the current system. Although the 'per unit' method will be a much fairer system, and a move that I ultimately support, I think making the change-over in one lump move gives the impression that the change in funding favors people who can afford homes that are far above the average home cost. It's a hard sell to anyone who will be paying more, regardless of how fair the system is.

Anon... The only one who's saying that it's still too expensive is Chapman.

MJ said...

-When the police and sheriffs were bidding for the fire dispatch they both said "no costs", no extra work, etc. I posted that I did not believe either at the time. We gave it to the LPD an then almost immediately they brought up the need for "negotiations" for the new work. We now know the LPD was not for "free". Why not try the Sheriffs?

-As for trash, if the perception is off then it is the paper's fault for using that figure when it doesn't mean much more than that the people who have those pricier houses were way over paying for their trash pickup. The article did not even compare the current trash costs to the assumed private trash cost in this year or th eyears moving forward when the savings grow. That is the true measure of the savings. Pull out the private trash and everyone's taxes will go up regardless when the municipal trash collection costs are put back in.

-We will now have additional people off the city payroll (long term) and a service that can be privately bid every so often. Even if we pay a short term price the long term savings is worth it. How would we change it over non "lump sum"?

Anonymous said...

Didn't I read somewhere that there was a budget request for a new 911 phone system this year too? If I am correct would that be needed if the duties were transferred/

Anonymous said...

I don't believe the police and sheriff were "bidding" for the fire dispatch. Chief Eggert insisted that the police could take over the dispatch without any extra cost to the city. Come to find out after a month or two that the union decided they wanted $30,000 for the "extra" work. Then to top it off we now need more money to update the system.

Even after it was brought up, no one wanted to seriously look at the Niagara County Sherrif as the best viable option (of course they were already set up and taking many of our calls already) and our county taxes already cover that cost.

Anonymous said...

When Niag. Co. took over NT Fire it was, and last I knew still is a mess. All The NT FF hate it, and anyone who thinks Niag. Co. will take over 3000+ fire and 30,000+ police calls without asking for $$$$, I have some prime land for sale in Fla. I'll sell real cheap.

Anonymous said...

Where were you cry babies at the meeting? So many ideas here but afraid to come out from behind the computer screen.

Rocketboy said...

Loling at someone who's anon calling people crybabies and "afraid".

I highly doubt fear had anything to do with anything.

Rocketboy said...

Oh, and you know what else we do anonymous, and is considered a protected right? Voting.

Anonymous said...

I agree because we need to get some intelligent people with some common sense in the city. Privatizing garbage is great and all but don't tell us we're getting a tax cut when we'll be spending more money next year. That just doesn't sit well with me. I appreciated the printout that was passed out by Alderman Smith showing a more realistic amount that our increase may be.

MJ said...

No one is touting an overall "Tax Cut". It was been clearly laid out as a small reduction in the overall tax rate with a new garbage fee that will take our overall costs higer this year.\

this may be what you speak of:
http://lockportforum.blogspot.com/2010/11/your-change-in-tax-rate.html

I think there weren't many commenters because the budget seems pretty fair considering the challenge presented.

Bigger savings (contractual) will need to be longer range goals. Let your aldermen know that you want them.

maverick johnson said...

Am I the only one that feels like the city is rushing into this whole thing?? They haven't even sent the bids out yet, they have NO idea what the bids are going to come back as. There is no plan in place for the transition, the enforcement, and the options, yet garbage collection is already out of the budget. Shouldn't all the details be known and in place BEFORE instituting this change???

Watch as bags of illegal garbage end up in fields, dumped all over the place. If you think there will be 100% compliance, you're dreaming. There will be illegal dumping everywhere.

I guess I'll have to clean out my basement and load up the curb before the changeover...

MJ said...

Seeing it has taken nearly 20 years and we are the last local municipality to institute curbside recycling, the term "rushing" may be a stretch ;)

When you get down to it, this is just a trash fee. If the city uses it to pay for a private hauler or if they use it to continue to provide it themselves remains to be seen. One of the articles mentioned exactly that: in the case of the private haulers coming in way over expectations for cost. The contracts with other local municipalities should give a good initial feel for the costs though.

I doubt there is 100% compliance with any law. Hence the need for law enforcement. Also, anyone would be foolish to not make sure their spring cleaning is thourough this coming year. I know mine will be.

Anonymous said...

Funny, I could not find a "Rocket Boy" in the white pages.

Rocketboy said...

Funny, isn't that? As I've discussed before, I keep it that way. You see, I won't discuss the same thing with my boss as I would one of my good friends. I'll use language with some people, that I wouldn't use with others. By not having a 'rocket boy' in the phone book, I can talk freely without worrying about offending someone that I may need to work with on a professional level. As unless you know who I am, you do not know who I am, and anything that I say that may offend someone will not spill over into my daily life. You never know when you are going to run into a Petty Tyrant.

http://www.thisamericanlife.org/radio-archives/episode/419/petty-tyrant

I also could not find 'Anonymous' in the phone book, so there you go.

MJ... I think that city hall needs to do is to lay it out for us, without having to pour over budget spreadsheets. Let us know that unless we do this, this is what the cost would be, and this is what the tax burden would be. I do believe that a private company can do many things quicker, cheaper, and overall, more efficient than government can (because when the gov't can't do it within cost, they just raise the funding that they get), I just want to be able to see the cost benefit without having to crunch my own numbers (unless of course, I choose to).

Maverick Johnson said...

What I mean by rushing, is that the framework and ALL the details should be in place BEFORE this is voted on and approved. When they had the public forum, only a few spoke up. They wanted us to voice our opinions on something that we have no solid, firm numbers on. They want to pass this budget without all the numbers being in place. I don't see why it took so long to put the garbage deal together, now they try to push it through the budget at the last minute. I equate this to going on a blind date. When she shows up at the door, you may be happy with the result, or, you may want to turn and run. When the solid numbers come about, will we have a good night? Or run like hell...

MJ said...

I will agree with you that it would be nice (or even should be expected) to revceive from the city a summary of the budget for the public to review and comment on. I asked if there was such a thing and as far as I heard, there was not. Only the spreadsheet was available. This should be changed int he future. Let your alderman know.

We are left with what the papers want to report and the raw data from the spreadsheets. They reported that the $1.3M was removed from the trash budget and the $125 fee per ~10500 properties equals it out ($1.312M). Longer term it is expected to drop lower.

MAVJOH: I agree is seems overly long to still be ironing out the trash service RFQ. But the only thing we will be locked into is a garbage fee that requires all uses to pay for what they throw and the oportunity to remove public employees from the budget long term. It's a long delayed first step to start moving forward with it.

Rocketboy said...

I have a program that finds desktop wallpaper based on keywords... One keyword I use is Lockport, and well, it found this. I'll just throw this out there in case anyone's interested.

Here's the new firetruck that we bought:

http://empirefiretrucks.com/2010/11/lockport-fire-department/

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