Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Not dead, injured or impaired

I've been very busy lately with recovering from my recent illness, writing stories and semi-secret projects - but I do appreciate people asking where I've been.

Well today I got the City Council agenda.

The city's Free Cash has been certified at $1,281,624. In his letter to councillors, Mayor John Moak points out that this is a 52% increase over last fiscal year and a 111% increase from the amount available in FY2006 (the year before he took office).

The mayor attributes this feat to a bunch of stuff, including not filling 2 DPS positions and "aggressive collection of fees, taxes and revenue sources."

I applaud the latter, but given the deplorable condition of the city's sidewalks and other infrastructure, I'm not that sure about the DPS positions.


Dick Monahan said...

Hmmmm. Two 2-year terms, ending in 2010 would indicate that 2005 was the year before Moak.

Anyway, it sounds like he increased "free cash" by about half a mill. What's the purpose of that money? What is more important than maintaining the infrastructure?

Gillian Swart said...

Well, FY2006 would have ended July 30, 2006, when Moak had been in office for 6 months - so I guess you are correct.

The money is for unforeseen situations and emergencies and apparently it shouldn't fall below a certain percentage of the city budget or the city's bond rating is damaged. I think that's 2 or 3%.

Or maybe that's the stabilization fund; I always get those 2 confused.

Oh, and by the way, the enterprise depts. have free cash as follows:

Water - $1,281,624
Sewer - $1,099,373
Harbormaster - $384,082

Anonymous said...

Free Cash

Remaining, unrestricted funds from operations of the previous fiscal year including unexpended free cash from the previous year, actual receipts in excess of revenue estimates shown on the tax recapitulation sheet, and unspent amounts in budget line-items. Unpaid property taxes and certain deficits reduce the amount that can be certified as free cash. The calculation of free cash is based on the balance sheet as of June 30, which is submitted by the community's auditor, accountant, or comptroller. Important: free cash is not available for appropriation until certified by the Director of Accounts. (See Available Funds)

Anonymous said...

And yet there is new carpet in city hall and recent new paint in the bathrooms (that are cir 1940 and smell of ....) and a new floor in the upstairs atrium. and holes in the sidewalks and a new dog park across the street yet to be paid for.

Let's look at this claim of 'aggressive collections' and see what is 'outstanding' before counting them 'chickens'. Any public release of the uncollected amounts from the past 4 years?

Positions left unfilled mean there are even more issues that have gone unattended in order to show a profit and prove the mismanagement of not only funds but personnel.

Lets see the cost of sub contractors through out the city and the extra work following up on the volunteers and prisoners we use. Just what is the real cost of this management style? What are the insurance claims payouts due to the lack of attention to our infrastructure? Or the added personnel to the Mayors office for the one stop shopping serviced rendered.

How many law suits have been filed for injuries that could have been avoided by a larger labor force? I remember about 40 just at the DPW, now there are less than 20 doing half the work with twice the area to maintain. Savings?

The figures I saw for State Certifications were not what you reported, but a little less, with even more in collections due.

Ya really can't take measure until the tennant exits and a real inventory takes place. Like all temporary government apointees, the damage is not seen until the files are opened and things are bared for all to see.

Anonymous said...

Haven't there been 'other' personnel positions that also have gone unfilled. Such as the Assistant Treasurer/ A much needed position for those 'Agressive Collections' if you ask me! A position that is supposed to be 'apointed' by city council?

With those DPW positions open, did we not pay contractors to plow the streets or repair sidewalks or pick up trash?

Me thinks the 'windfall' was a surprise due to unknown financial spending (or outright errors in acounting) and unpaid bills that will resurface at a later date!

Ari Herzog said...

Free cash is analogous to what some call a "rainy day fund." In other words, if the city needs to spend something in an emergency situation, e.g. Mother Nature causes flooding which is not anticipated in budget talks, then emergency repairs would come out of free cash.

Stabilization funds serve a different purpose.

Free cash is important here. One of the reasons such a large increase was certified was due to the saved money from shifting city employees into the tiered Blue Cross health system, when beforehand there was no tier.

Gillian Swart said...

Anonymous @ 10:46, I got the figures from the letter Moak sent to the City Council and which is in the council agenda pkg. for Monday. It does not address collections and I still have not been able to get outstanding amts.

Whatever the free cash figure is now, after the FY10 school budget is balanced it will be a lot less ...

And I thought the City Council approved the Asst. Treasurer at the last meeting (which is not to say there are not other critical vacancies, including the DPW).

Good thoughts,everyone.

Anonymous said...

Better set that money aside to pay the $150K-plus for a city manager some people are itching to pay.