Saturday, June 7, 2008

A Few Budget Observations

To access the Fall River 2009 proposed budget online click here.

In his "Budget Message" (pg. 4 on pdf budget) Correia states,"we have been able to mitigate personnel cuts and avoid lay-offs in City departments (outside the school department) by including no cost of living increase for employees." However, the budget later refers (pg. 11) to the cost of living increases that the City Councilors will be receiving in the 2009 budget.

  • I realize that the Councilors are elected public officials and not exactly "employees" but it doesn't seem equitable to give them cost of living increases when the majority must go without.

Despite Correia's claims that we have been living outside of our means and cuts are necessary to balance the budget, (pg. 63) Correia has nearly doubled the Mayor's Office budget from $431,740 in 2008 to $808,378 in 2009. This huge increase is in the form of salaries and wages.

  • The increase includes itemized salary expenses such as health insurance and retirement contributions that were not listed on the previous years budget breakdown so it isn't clear exactly what the jump in salaries/wages. Not including the itemizations, the difference is an increase of over $200,000 at the least.

The salary increases of the Mayor's Office seem frivolous in a budget that is cutting fire facilities, apparatus, and 16 fire positions (pg. 16). Correia (pg. 16) says "Closing an apparatus, even for a day, means more risk to firefighters and neighborhoods, may require more apparatus to respond to larger fires (depleting reserve forces), and may occasionally require greater reliance on mutual aide. The department will do its best to manage this additional risk, given the present budgetary constraints."

  • Correia acknowledges the additional risks but proceeded to cut in spite of that. I can't help but laugh a little that part of Correia's budget plan is to greatly rely on mutual aide (whereby emergency responders from other jurisdictions would lend assistance to us frequently). What happens if Swansea, Somerset, Assonet, etc have the same brilliant budget balancing idea - rely on Fall River for mutual aide.....

Whether I agree with the expenditures/cuts or not, the budget does appear to be more organized and itemized than years past a fact that Correia was more than happy to boast at the (perhaps deserving) expense of the Lambert administration.


FRC said...

I couldn't help but notice the huge increase in the salaries of the Mayor's office. One thing that should be considered though is for years there was Mayoral staff that was being paid with CDBG money. So, since those changes, it can be expected that the budget of the office would increase as the cost of those positions are shifted back to the city.

However, it is sad to see how every department needs to cut its salaries and costs while the budget of the Mayor's office increases substantially.

Anonymous said...

Excellent observations.

I haven't even started looking at the budget yet, but I guess it's that time of year.

Anonymous said...

But did you missed the toxic dumping statement hidden in the budget under the sewer dept???

This budget should be looked at with a fine tooth comb or the mayor will be pulling the wool over our eyes again.

Anonymous said...

Lambert should file a complaint against wsar and barry richards-some of the comments he made on air today about him cross the line:

shamrock said...

Thats funny you should mention that because I had similar thoughts about Barry Richards last month when he was bashing a town official in westport or dartmouth. What really got to me was that Barry acknowledged that he was saying terrible things and commented "but she can't sue me because she is a public official."

Barry Richards clearly is under the (wrong) impression that public officials aren't able to sue him for defamation - I think he crosses the line assuming he is untouchable. So to correct any misinformation Barry Richards has received; Barry - you can be sued for defamation even by public officials! Yes there is a higher standard to prove defamation when the plaintiff is a public official but you CAN be sued!