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Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Responding to a Fiscal Crisis

We had to take a second look at this week's agenda for tomorrow evening's Town Board meeting. There it was like a bad spelling error, "Appointment of a part time Building Department Secretary". It seems whomever added this to the agenda was not the least bit concerned that the town has a projected 2009 deficit estimated at $64,000 that is going to require some tough decisions on personnel services.

Then the gossip mill started talking about putting another unneeded job back on the payroll with Conservative Party Committee person Judith Wos rumored as being put back on the payroll. There's a position that was never needed in the first place and which added to the town's deficit.

Whatever is going on behind the scenes with regard to spending money the town does not have, it's clear folks are not grasping the gravity of the fiscal crisis confronting the town. It's time to take a hard look at the staffing at town hall with an eye towards eliminating any position which the town can do without. These will not be easy decisions, but the economic times we face demand them. Town officials need to ask themselves whether we need two Fire Marshalls complete with "special vehicles".  Do we need to keep a Utilities Inspector on the payroll  long after the job he was hired to do, supervise construction of Water District 14, had been completed? Can we do more with less by rearranging the schedules of clerical personnel dividing their time between two departments rather than working in just one?

Also, the town board appeared to see the need to retain a new Town Engineer to run the Building Department and supervise the unionized staff.  The current set up has the union supervising itself, and people allowed to work after normal business hours with absolutely no one to supervise their activities.

Like it or not, the Town Board will need to take a long, hard look at the way things were managed in town hall. We hope they will work together towards that end.

What Kind of Transition?

The biggest change in town hall will take place in the Supervisor's Office. Mark Evers has taken his share of criticism from this publication and others, but he has a chance to demonstrate that he can put the interests of the town ahead of any past political agenda by ensuring a smooth transition for his successor and the incoming Board members.

Evers well remembers how difficult his predecessor made it for him in 2005 refusing all cooperation and with holding vital fiscal cooperation as to the true state of town finances. The prior town comptroller was told to offer no cooperation with the incoming administration and was helping to conceal a significant deficit created by failing to make a required payment to the State Retirement System.  It took several months to get a grip on town finances which affected many decisions on that incoming town board.

We sincerely hope that Mark Evers will put aside the campaign and work with his successor and incoming Board members offering full access to information they need to effectively deal with town finances and other issues facing the town in 2010.

It's Veterans Day 

All of us pause today to honor those who have served our country.

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