Saturday, March 29, 2014

What's Really Happening with the Temporary Budget

At a special meeting last night, the Plainfield City Council passed a temporary budget for the month of April.  This action allows the city to continue operating while the 12 month budget is under review by the Council.  This temporary budget, proposed by Mayor Adrian Mapp's administration, was approved unanimously.  There was a motion to reduce the section of the budget for the Mayors office by Councillor Reid but it failed on a 4 - 3 vote against.  Voting to support the Mayors office budget line "as is" were Rebecca Williams, Tracey Brown, Bridget Rivers and me.  Joining Reid were Gloria Taylor and Vera Greaves.

Here is some background on the voting:

1.  no-one wanted to voted down the temporary budget because without it, city operations would begin to shut down.  However, there are some Councillors who are upset with the Mayor and want to send him a message.

2.  on the Mayors office budget, the 4 - 3 losing faction are trying to cut positions that Mapp supports because the funding for some positions were previously reduced or cut from Mayor Robinson-Briggs budgets by a previous Council.  We're talking about a Public Relations position, the Recreation Director position and a Media position.  Here is what is wrong with that thinking:
  •  Mayor Robinson=Briggs came into office making major personnel changes and got the full support of City Council, including me and other Council members who had opposed her in elections.  That's just good form - you give the incoming administration what they need and hope that they can help the city.  We questioned and challenged some Mayoral actions (like the police security detail surrounding the Mayor, supporting the Recreation Director when he refused to answer the Councils questions, using the media office primarily for Mayoral photo opps but not providing information to the public) but we did not try setting her up to fail. 
  • Years into her term, when some Councillors (me included) saw that more and more staff were being misdirected for purposes not beneficial to our residents, we said enough is enough and took action through budget reductions.
  • Mayor Mapp was in his first month of office when similar actions were being proposed by some Councillors.  Now in his third month, this is playing out through the temporary budget. 
I want to express gratitude to Councillors Rivers and Brown.  They did the right thing last night, just as members of previous Councils (me, Adrian Mapp, Annie McWilliams and Rebecca Williams) did during the first four Robinson-Briggs years.  I hope that continues as we begin the annual budget deliberations. 

Adrian Mapp will be judged by the Council and ultimately the voters for his track record.  But first the Council has to provide the building blocks - the funding, his team - so that he can sink or swim (as the saying goes) based on his performance and not the intransigence of the governing body.

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