Budget Busters = Unexpected Expenses
Mayor Bodker presented his proposed budget on August 14th, and that budget was to be voted on by the City Council on Sept 11th. Due to the recent weather event, the new date for that vote will be Sept 19th. The release of the proposed budget occurred prior to the Labor Day holiday. Clearly, that doesn't provide much time to go through the 143-page document in sufficient detail, along with the other hefty agenda items such as CH2 renewal contracts.
Bodker states that a driving force in the budget process was cost containment, yet the budget is riddled with overspending. Below are some highlights:
Across the board, ALL STAFF will receive a 3.3% merit raise, increasing to 3.5% for department heads. This is in addition to the cost of living adjustment (COLA) of 1.5%. Yes, some staff deserve a raise, but ALL?
The city owns and maintains several vehicles for staff to use, but that doesn’t stop taxpayers for footing the bill with extra cash for staff to drive their own cars. Car Allowances are a big expense for the city - $49,560. City Manager department has the biggest cost at $18,360, for 4 employees. That breaks down to an average of $382 per employee EVERY month.
$58,190 are identified for Folders, Pens, etc. With 219 full-time employees, that is $269 per worker on folders and pens.
$547,000 is the total for Operating Supplies. This includes important police & fire supplies, IT equipment refresh, and fun events such as the parade, art festival, and recreation activities. There are several items that can be considered frivolous, such as $13,000 for city council meals, $8,000 on shirts for employees ($50 each), and $2,500 for ink cartridges for Park Place.
Education & Training is a HUGE expense, totaling $371,718. City Council’s line item is $38,000 and includes $17,500 for travel expenses. Mayor Bodker is the big utilizer of “education & training”. He frequently travels at the city’s expense for groups and organizations that are not mandatory or essential.
Those organizations Mayor Bodker belongs to are under “Dues and Fees” and total more than $30,000.
The total cost for him to belong to these groups and attend their meetings is $68,000.
“Dues and Fees” budget for the entire city is $196,827. This composes of essential and non-essential organizations for staff.
$780,000 is listed for electricity for street lights and traffic signals. It is not indicated if LED lights are used to reduce energy costs.
The City Manager has expressed a desire to have a facility for storage and maintenance activities in the Central Part of City, for $300,000.
The City Manager has over $300,000 itemized for economic development, consulting & renderings. This includes $18,000 for citizen surveys.
Also of interest is $150,000 for Urban designers and attorney for the UDC. The city has historically spent significantly for plans on redeveloping property it does NOT own. A few years ago it spent over $250,000 on the “District”.
Recently it spent $363,275 on TUNNELL SPANGLER & ASSOCIATES. They are better known as TSW, the group hired to develop the Comprehensive Use Plan draft.