Saturday, February 13, 2010

Be Concerned about Next Years Budget This Year

A 7 1/2% tax increase in this years municipal budget is something to be concerned about. Taking a multi year budgeting approach, we should make every attempt to average 3 3/4% tax increase for this year and next.

In other words, we need to aim for a 0% increase in the fiscal year 2011 (FY 2011)budget. Sounds unrealistic? Perhaps not. Here is what needs to happen:

1. Start working on the budget March 1 the latest. This part has to be done by the Mayor, City Administrator Bibi Taylor and their staff. Aim for a July or August budget introduction to Council.

2. Hold a retreat to get consensus between the Mayor, Council and senior management on FY 2011 priorities. This needs to happen in March or April. We can argue about details later but let's start with general agreement about what we want our tax increase to be and what is most important to spend our municipal revenues on.

3. The Council has consensus on a FY 2010 budget that has $1 million in budget cuts and sets the stage for savings in FY 2011 that could be full year savings. That will only happen if the Council sticks to its guns at the Tuesday 8 pm budget hearing.

4. The Council will have to direct the administration to reorganize some departments and offices in city hall to make them more efficient and cost effective. This will need to be done by resolution. The sooner this direction is given, the sooner the Mayor and administration can come back with recommendations. This part of the process would have to begin in the next month or two.

5. One thing working in our favor was pointed out by the city administrator recently. Last years pension deferral will be completely paid in the FY 2010 budget and the pension expense for FY 2011 should decrease significantly.

6. A wild card is state aid to Plainfield. We could very well see a decrease in this revenue source in FY 2011. All the more reason to work hard to hold future expenses in check and create the conditions for increasing tax ratables. One strategy would be to keep Plainfield's property taxes lower than surrounding towns. This would make Plainfield more attractive to home buyers, developers and new businesses.

We need a short term and long term budget strategy. The short term approach is up for a vote Tuesday at 8 pm. Please come out and support the Council. Naysayers will be present.

In the long term, there is cause for concern but each of the suggestions above are do-able. Previous city administrator Marc Dashield gave the Council a 5 year budget projection last year that showed a 50% increase in municipal property taxes over the 5 years. We don't have to go there but we will have some very difficult decisions to make. Employees will certainly be affected. Plainfield tends to protect their needs better than the needs of residents in general. Local elected officials have the challenging job of balancing the needs of all constituents.


Bernice said...

Where is the meeting notice for Tuesday?
Also I hope everyone will review the Memo of Understanding from DLGS as it puts constraints on spending that have to be understood and honored.

Bernice said...

Never mind, I found the meeting notices and posted links.

Anonymous said...


Much of what you wrote in your blog correlates to the CBAC. One major difference is that the CBAC suggested that the budget process start in January.

It is important that this budget be passed and the 2011 budget begin. I can assure you that if Marc Dashield's assessment that taxes will go up 50% in 5 years, this town can do whatever they want with the people left, because they will be precious few.

I, for one, cannot afford 25K in city taxes along. I hope the people of Plainfield will take your advice and not only come out tomorrow to support the budget, but also take a closer look at how their money is spent.

Cory Storch said...

Dear anonymous
You (and CBAC) are right. The budget process should start in January. That would be the goal for next year. This assumes that the FY 2011 budget should be approved by September because of our traditional late start.

olddoc said...

Why should we be 3 months late (September) to "traditionally" approve the budget. All excuses about state aid etc is a lot of Budgets are subject to amending if their is a change in income or unexpected expenses. The process should start NOW so that it could be ready for approval in Ju8n e for July FY2011.

Plainfield's problems are sloppy money management and weird paper trails.

Anonymous said...

The early bird catches the worm and the rest wait to be handed sloppy-seconds, in our case courtesy of Jerry & Co., Inc.

Anonymous said...

Rather "striving" for a miracle next year with a 0% increase, why not go for a 3% increase this year; if any increase is justified.

Come on councilor, no more than 3% THIS YEAR!!!!!

Cory Storch said...

Dear anonymous,
You need to come come to the meeting Tuesday at 8 pm and express your sentiments. The Council will definitely be hearing from people who want us to back away from some of our proposed cuts totaling $1 million.

Anonymous said...

I agree with Doc - can anyone in Plainfield say any other sentence than, "That's the way it has always been?"

Anonymous said...

I cannot keep on affording this 10% increases that the Council and Mayor keep pushing on us.

Next it will be the PMUA. Then it will be the schools. How can we keep on paying these increases? Someone has to stop this.

When will you stop spending money we do not have? When will you be satisfied? When?

Anonymous said...

What services does Plainfield provide to its residents when you compare it to neighboring municipalities? Are we more or less efficient? Are you still going to push for a 0% increase next year or was that a "I'll gladly pay you tomorrow for a burger today" statement?

Cory Storch said...

Dear anonymous
calling for a 0% tax increase is not a gratuitous comment. It is more likely to happen if the many anonymi come forward and speak out at Council meetings, contact the Mayors office, write letters to the editor and participate in our Citizens Budget Advisory Committee.
Anonymous comments made in frustration are understandable - we are paying too much for too little - but they don't carry much weight for change. And if you were at the budget hearing you would understand what I mean - people advocating to save their friends and colleagues jobs and a rare advocate for the home owner/residents who have to pay for city services.