Archive for September 8th, 2008

by jhwygirl

Live blogging city council here. Can’t resist, as they just started budge cuts.

Hendrickson just made a motion – to place a hiring freeze on all vacancies. He didn’t even ask what the vacancies were.

Brett Ramharter: Obviously, this isn’t something that could be resolved this evening. This would have to go back to committee, because we have no clue what the real status is of these unfilled positions. I guess I need some clarification. We count on getting 2.85% in savings – the majority of that comes from personnel. That turns into about $1.2 million in savings. We budget for a year-end balance of a little over – approximately – $920,000 and with the $1.2 million in savings, we get about $2.1 million – that’s how we get there. So I guess the question that I’ve got – is this intended to just reduce the size of next years budget? Is that what we’re looking at? As opposed to get savings which are already factored in?

Hendrickson: Yes, if you take 10 positions which are unfilled and have been unfilled and factor in even just $25,000 a year – that’s $250,000, not counting benefits. That would take you well over the $300,000 mark. So instead of raising the property tax 3.5 to 4.82 that would cover the shortfall and the administrative budget of $285,000 and then some.

Brett: So as a point of clarification – this really isn’t focused on the type of savings I was discussing – this is just designed to make the budget smaller by $300,000+.

Hendrickson: OK

Walzer: So if I understand this correctly, Mr. Hendrickson wants to reduce the staff by 10 positions. We don’t know what the positions are. We don’t know how the work is being done now. I know in places I’ve worked before, empty positions are often filled with overtime, which is costly and also difficult on employees – or even worse, being required to get the work done for more than one employee in just 40 hours. I think it’s unwise to just ax 10 employee positions that are open at the moment. That’s what I’m hearing Mr. Hendrickson say. I think the city’s done an overall good job of looking at the turnover rate and incorporating that into the budget. I can not support that.

Childers: Asks the Mayor for clarification about Hendrickson’s continual referal to a city “shorftall” – he says: I am unaware of a city shortfall. Is there a city shortfall that I haven’t been informed about, Mayor?

Mayor: No sir. Continue Reading »

by jhwygirl

Thought it might be fair to let everyone know exactly what were the sensible budget cuts that John Hendrickson and the “City Council conservatives” proposed – the ones that Missoulapolis spoke about today.

Here it is, folks.

As for the highlights, the “City Council conservatives” wanted to:
>>Gut Parks & Rec by 13 employees (14 if you include the Bike-Ped coordinator) AND eliminate the entire Parks maintenance staff;
>>Charge city employees $60-$100/month for healthcare (but only non-union employees – and I’m pretty sure charging non-union employees and not charging union employees is really illegal);
>>Cut $300,000 in back-up funding for said health insurance (you know, that funding that is needed for them to actually be self-insured);
>>Eliminate the Missoula Urban Transportation District’s (MUTD) Senior bus line; and
>>”Skim” 20% off of OPG (Yeah, that’s how it’s done: Skim ’em.)

Call me crazy – I’m sure some of you actually do – but aren’t the parks we have around town considered infrastructure? Same with those costly pools? Don’t they, umm, need to be maintained?

Now, in all fairness, Hendrickson & Co. suggested we replace the maintenance staff with juvenile delinquents community service volunteers. But ask yourself: Would using juvenile delinquents community service volunteers for park maintenace throughout the city actually be a good idea?

Yeah – cool! Chain gangs in downtown Missoula. What color would they wear? Green? Perhaps purple, so they match the already invading spotted knapweed that is everywhere due to the maintenance budget having been raided for the last 2 or 3 years. Yes. Purple it is!

So, ahh, if you are going to remember names for 2009, perhaps you should remember the names of the persons who wanted to eliminate Parks & Rec, cut transportation options for senior citizens, and risk lawsuits by charging some employees for health insurance and by taking away the funds they need to be self-insured.

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