Sunday, June 16, 2013

Plainfield Budget Amendments

This past Tuesday, the City Council approved budget amendments.  This is the Council's opportunity to make the annual city budget, introduced by the Mayor and her administration, its own.  That is the process at all levels of government- the executive branch submits a budget and the legislative branch modifies and approves it.  Some would call it teamwork, others the balance of power between the branches. Some in attendance at last Wednesdays Council meeting might call it a mess. 

It was all the above.  But mostly it worked. 

Every year I look forward to the budget amendment meeting, albeit with some anxiety.  For all the hours Council members put in throughout the year, our power and influence is not as great as most observers think.  Except for budget amendments.  This is when we get to say what are priorities and where the Mayor and administration must spend the city's resources. These amendments have a real impact on the rest of the year.

The Council was wise to employ David Kochel as our budget consultant.  He is a retired city administrator who previously served (8 months) in the Robinson-Briggs administration as interim City Administrator. He crunched the numbers and recommended various increases and decreases to the Mayors budget.  There were a few bumps in the road as we voted on each and every recommendation but ultimately all were approved. 

Some amendments were initiated by Council members.  One amendment, championed in part by me, added $75,000 to the Council budget to bring experts in municipal government operations as part of the transition to a new Mayor and administration.  Plainfield residents want change at city hall.  They deserve a city government that uses best practices to serve the people at the lowest possible tax rate.  We all know that some of city hall's operations are in need of overhaul.  Recreation, code inspections and communications are prominent on most people's lists.

I want the new administration to hit the ground running.  We have lost 8 years to lack of vision and inaction.  It's time to make things better for our residents.  It's time to give our city employees the tools they need to succeed and grow as municipal government professionals.  The $75,000 increase will enable us to use in expertise this year to plan improvements beginning in 2014.

The budget amendments went through the Council Finance Committee, which is Adrian Mapp, Bill Reid and me.  I thank the other Council members for their support of the amendments, especially Tracey Brown, who introduced an amendment at the Council meeting to increase summer youth employment opportunities.  A good move that was supported by all.  The sum total of the amendments did not add one penny to property taxes.  It was a good night for the residents of Plainfield.

Final budget approval will be this Monday at 8 pm in the municipal court chambers.


Pat Turner Kavanaugh said...

Cory: while I don't disagree with the need to ascertain how City administration works (or doesn't), I do wonder how this works alongside a possible charter change.

olddoc said...

Cory, I missed Tuesday night's meeting. Perhaps that is why the Wednesday meeting seemed so disorganized.