Monday, April 14, 2008

Driving Positive Change for Management of Taxpayer Dollars

On tonight’s council agenda, Ordinance 2051 returns for first reading to allocate additional funds to certain items in the budget, this time from unspent funds in the FY08 budget as well as from the surplus. Councilwoman Campbell and I are pleased to have been the impetus for this better management of taxpayer money.

The Hydrilla treatment of Schumaker Pond is no longer in this budget amendment because, per a proposal from Councilwoman Cohen, the funds are to be transferred from unspent zoo salaries (due to vacancies). Being an intradepartmental transfer, this is not required to come before council and only requires the mayor’s approval of the transfer request from the department head. The city’s portion of the treatment is also less than the previously ordinance-requested amount of $8,000, as we have learned that the actual cost of the City’s portion of the chemicals is $5,828.

The administration is also taking funds from these same unspent zoo salaries to cover the additional money required for the FY07 audit. This overage was due to work by the auditors being done after December 15 at their “busy tax season” rate. This amount of $14,692 is part of the budget amendment ordinance.

One area that we negotiated a lesser figure for is the legal services increase, originally requested at $88,750. We have requested a joint meeting of the council with the mayor and the city attorney to discuss cost control options for these services, since this is the third year in a row that additional budget requests for the city attorney have been necessary. Right now, that discussion is scheduled to take place at the council’s additional work session April 21.

We recognize that the city must continue to have legal representation. We also recognize that the administration must be accountable to the taxpayers by projecting and operating within a realistic budget. (Budget amendments require four votes to pass.) Therefore, at the council’s April 7th work session we offered an increase to the soon-to-be depleted account to provide essential legal services to protect the citizens of the city.

With the FY09 Proposed Budget anticipated from the mayor tomorrow, we will continue to keep taxpayers updated on the city’s financial matters. We hope to continue to stimulate good fiscal policy and management of taxpayer money for achieving optimum delivery of services, especially in these uncertain economic times.