Here's what Republican city Councilor David Mills had to say about the budget situation following yesterday's meeting with department heads at City Hall:
It was a very sobering meeting today, but nothing unexpected. I really believe that the unfunded or partially funded mandates need to be publicized. They are continually being referred to, yet very few know or understand what they are.
The mandate outlined today by Dr. Streiffer concerning professional development of staff that could cost upward of $400-$500,000 for our community is ridiculous. It is another example of our legislators being totally out of touch with their constituents.If 30-40% of his budget is mandated by the State, then any costs have to be deducted from the remaining 60% which is very limiting. Translating this into dollars means 30-40 million dollars are set in our local budget by the State, and this is only for education.
Unfortunately, most of the burden to reduce budgets fall on the municipal employees.We should look at all possibilities before staff reductions are considered.Contracts have been negotiated in good faith, and when salaries were not increased substantially in the past, employees were offered more attractive working conditions or increased benefits in lieu of additional monies.
These benefits are now very expensive, and make up a large portion of our budget. They are also subject to negotiations which puts the burden on our Mayor and Personal director as well as the Union negotiators.It is not a pleasant position to be in, but I am confident that everyone is up to the task.
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