Since Monday nights Middletown workshop meeting, where the junior Republican Committeeman, Tony “the Fibber” Fiore, presented an 8 point plan to limit the Township budget by representing previous democratic proposals as his own, Democrats on the Middletown Township Committee, Patrick Short and Sean Brynes have made public their proposals for limiting spending and cutting taxes.
In a letter sent to Township CFO Richard Wright and then acting Township Administrator Fred Jahns on April 5th of last year, Short and Byrnes listed their ideas, that if followed, had the potential to save the tax payers of Middletown almost $3 Million.
The following is the text of that letter and according to Committeemen Short and Brynes as far as they are concerned, the proposals that are outlined below are still relevant one year later and on the table for open and honest discussions:
Sean and I have reviewed the proposed Middletown Budget for 2008 and have identified where further budget reductions could be made. Attached is a copy of a worksheet that captures our recommendations.
The attached worksheet is in a matrix format. From top left to bottom left is a list of Budget Line Items. Across the top, from left to right, is the Line Item Description, Budget Account Number, the Administration’s Recommended Budget Level, Proposed Reduction (further budget reductions made by Sean and I), and Remarks (that provide justification for our reductions). Columns F-I have been added to compare the 2007 Salary Levels to 2008 Salary Levels by providing the salary difference and percentage % of differences. Column J-Savings is a column that totals the savings from each of the proposed reductions and a place holder has been established for any reductions made to a salary line.
As result of our recommended changes, a sub-total of $1,913,652.00 could be obtained (see bottom right side of page 6). And, an additional $654,540.06 could be recognized if salaries were not increased to the levels that are currently specified within the 2008 budget; thus resulting in an opportunity for an overall savings total of $2,568,192.06 if all of the proposed budget reductions were taken into account.
In addition, Grants and their associated costs have been separated within the worksheet so an examination can be made to determine if they are worth pursuing based on need, cost, and success rate.
Lastly, Sean and I have provided a list of observations and further recommendations for your consideration:
1. Wean Middletown Township off Municipal State aid so Middletown becomes self reliant and budget can be approved far earlier than under existing process
2. Cut back on donations, subsides, dues, subscriptions, travel, overtime, operating expense, misc. expense and cap training across the board. Question the Salary Wages level increases across board.
3. Restrict non essential spending until the budget is approved (note 30% of budget has been spent)
4. Restrict non essential O/T until the budget is approved
5. Restrict non-essential Travel. All travel must be approved by administrator
6. Any surprised money obtained from the State should go directly into Tax Relief
7. Note: Total Debt payment = $8.48M (This has contributed to our current situation)
• Debt Principal $4.8M
• Debt on NJEDA $13,220
• Debt Service $2.3M
• Debt Service-Green Trust $92,550
• Debt MCIA $1.3M
8. Examine if capital improvements can be spread over two year period (Note: capital improvements of $3.45M which includes NJDT grant of $175K, could be spread over a two year period, thus providing some savings
9. Examine need for employee cars
10. Examine if telephone providers could be competed or packaged
11. Charge back services to the Arts Center
12. Conduct study to determine cost advantages of privatizing the Arts Center
13. Apply 3.125% Administration fee to library
14. Consolidated services with library
15. Consolidated services with Schools
16. Increase municipal tax associated with hotels etc.
17. Compete multiple fuel source provider
18. Eliminate positions not filled since November
19. Obtain independent financial consultant to review and make recommendations
20. Reduce the number of days recycle facility is open (7 days to 5 days)
21. Consider Mayor’s secretary position as a shared resource; part time or eliminate
22. Consider part time vs. OT for Police clerk
23. Consider part time vs. OT for Court Clerk
24. Fill administrator’s position with assistant or delay backfill of person filling administrators position until next year
25. Examine if there is a benefit to consolidating the zoning and planning board
26. Review blank purchase order purchases
27. Establish management control over attorneys and engineers; Gain planned work by each before authorization is provided
28. Retain full-time attorney to perform many of the recurring tasks done by outside counsel
29. Develop an “In source” engineering plan
30. Examine funding for grants based on success rate, likelihood to obtain, necessary or nice to have criteria
31. Conduct special audit of vehicle maintenance; Consider state contract or compete maintenance based on consolidated volume;
32. Note: Reserve for Uncollected Taxes = $4.M
33. Consolidate Printing & Advertising
34. Develop an approach to get the budget out to the people for review at the same time that committee members review the budget and before budget is introduced (Reason: to stimulate thought to save $)
35. Establish Budget Committee of two Township Committee members who begin interacting with staff well before end of calendar year and make specific recommendation to full Committee on budget
36. Study privatization of segments of Public Works mission
37. Additional revenue may be generated by:
38. Development and lease of concession at Municipal parking lots
39. Optimizing taxes received per zoned property
Note From Committeeman Patrick Short:
We are working to do the same for this year but we have not received a credible base line to do the lower level analysis (i.e. Parks and Rec is asking for an 18% increase.. totally in the wrong direction). That is why we have stated that the board should establish the target budget line and pass that down to the departments. At the higher level we have expressed our thoughts similar to what Tony F stated last night to include freeze of OT except for PD and emergency services; establish 10% reduction on last year’s operating expenses until budget is approved. Keep in mind for two years running with these temporary budgets with no constraints attached enabled the departments to expend 40% of the total budget before the budget was approved.
These are the type of savings that were dismissed as inconsequential and frivolous last year by the former mayor. Now that they see it is necessary to take some type of action they adopt these ideas as their own because they make the most sense. It is time for the Committee to take on the leadership role that they were elected to do, instead of being subject to those that they are suppose to be leading.