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Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Budget Blues


One point that seems loud and clear with regard to staffing in the Building Department in Town Hall is that there are more staffers than there is work to justify the continuance of many of the jobs.  As a result, many are concerned that the new Supervisor will soon become aware of the lack of work, supervision and management of the employees and take steps to correct the situation, not only to protect town finances, but to provide supervision that is answerable to the town board and not to the union which currently represents the so called management employees and rank and file.

It remains an incredible example of poor judgment that the Town Board failed to eliminate the position of a $46,000 Utilities Inspector who has no more water inspections to perform and is now being given other work which is not a part of his job title's duties just to look "busy". One Fire Marshall position in the 2010 budget has been eliminated but its fairly clear that there is not enough work to continue to justify either position. Which employee will be dismissed remains unclear as the criteria for that decision with both hired on the same Town Board resolution, may be the result of some obscure Civil Service regulation.

One of these employees is still permitted to work unsupervised in a special 4 day 10 hour a day work week so he can also hold a second full time job as a Troy fireman. No one punches a time clock or can even affirm what work is done after normal business hours, 4 days a week.  This employee cost the town a pretty bundle when he was not only allowed to opt out of the town's health insurance policy which he was never in it to begin with, (He also double dips, getting his health insurance from Troy), but he was allowed to grab an even bigger buy out check by opting out of the more expensive family coverage which pays out $6000 a year to each employee receiving the buyout.  In January, we will likely see another round of those buy out checks go out to door thanks to a poorly written Union Contract that is being interpreted so as to screw the town as much as possible by allowing these excessive buyouts, allowing special people to work after normal business hours unsupervised, allow 10 hours of credit for a holiday for this employee instead of  the 8 hours everyone else gets, never allow a time clock in the building as a management tool and safeguard, and allow management employees to be part of the Union Bargaining Unit which permits  them to receive the insurance buyouts they otherwise would not have been eligible for. Those second round of big annual $3000 plus buyout checks are due to be released this month to the employees. They are the second equal payments for each employeeduring the year. That means the Fire Marshall who gets his health insurance from Troy gets an inexcusable double dip from taxpayers in North Greenbush while the Assessor gets a similar dip, but for the less expensive single coverage, while collecting health insurance as a State retiree. All because of a poorly written or poorly interpreted union contract.

Remember too that revenue from building permits is way down here as it is in most municipalities.  Without a demand for inspections as created by the issuance of permits, the need for staff to perform inspections is reduced. I wonder if the folks in town hall would, perhaps Mr. Evers, could drop us a note and tell us how much revenue has been generated this year verses last year for permits.  Also, could we get some numbers disclosing the number of inspections performed weekly by the Building Department staff for the last 8 weeks? These numbers would certainly tell the story of supply and demand and might just let the rest of the Board know that the Supervisor may have had a point at the last Board meeting when he complained that he could not get these permit numbers from the Building Department.  Perhaps the Comptroller has the revenue numbers which the Supervisor could share.

With the State facing a 20 Billion Dollar deficit over the next two years, significant increases in local contributions to the State Pension System being forecast and potentially dramatic cutbacks in State Aid to local governments being planned for the years ahead, neither North Greenbush or any other locality, can continue to spend money so irresponsibly or manage its employees and resources as if there were no economic crisis impacting our town, county and state. Like it or not, the Town Board is going to have to take steps to dramatically reduce spending, first to eliminate a 2009 operating General Fund Deficit of at least $50,000, perhaps more and second, to prevent its recurrence on the spending side in 2010.

Like it or not, that's the challenge facing this Town Board. Time will tell whether they have have the intestinal fortitude to take some difficult steps.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

the way this town has been run is an outrage and borders on criminal. now that we have a professional ready to take over hopefully things will change.i doubt very much that ms. ashworth with her extensive back ground in goverment will be "fooled" as it appers the way of the current crew.