Bremerton City Council President Will Maupin sent a letter to Mayor Patty Lent and Financial Services Director Becky Hasart calling for major changes in the city’s 2012 budget. He also leveled an interesting claim about how department directors were instructed to address the changes with the council.
“This year, the Council was not afforded the opportunity to provide input early in the process and I understand that department heads were warned to not argue against the administration’s budget on threat of being fired.” — Will Maupin
Maupin faults the administration and the council for how the budget has been handled and said he looks forward to a meeting today (Monday) to hammer out some details before the council approves the final spending plan on Wednesday, which in theory could change.
Among the changes he calls for are a 15 percent reduction in executive salaries, the assumption of furloughs for city employees and a reduction in layoffs down to less than 10.
I’ve called both Maupin and Lent for comment and received voice mail. I presume they are meeting now. We’ll have a story later (in print Tuesday). The letter follows.
Patty & Becky,
The purpose of this memo is to provide input on the budget and the budget process to help finalize this year’s budget and to help avoid the same mistakes in the future.
I think that the administration, myself and the entire Council have made mistakes during the development of this budget. The budget contains several controversial proposals and was developed by the administration with very little input from the Council and department heads. Past budgets have been a team effort between the administration, the Council and the department heads. This year, the Council was not afforded the opportunity to provide input early in the process and I understand that department heads were warned to not argue against the administration’s budget on threat of being fired.
At this point, some of the administration’s proposals for revenue enhancement have been approved by Council for the 2012 budget. In the future, things like increases in PILOT, increased parking taxes, shifting funds to the street department, significant numbers of layoffs, etc., should be discussed with the Council before budget preparation begins.
Since the budget was delivered to the Council late, the Council accepted the task of changing or eliminating some of the elements of the administration’s budget proposal while trying to keep it balanced. In retrospect, the Council should have decided which of the proposals were acceptable and which were not and should have sent the budget back to the administration for further work. We should not have tried to do the administration’s work for them.
As I discussed with Becky on Thursday, here are some of the elements the Council wants incorporated in the revised budget proposal:
Salaries for high paid members of management, including the mayor, should be reduced by a meaningful amount (about 15%) through furloughs or other actions.
Furloughs should be used for other employees to avoid layoffs.
The executive budget should be examined to make sure it contains only required expenditures in this difficult economic period.
The budget should assume salary concessions by labor unions.
The budget should assume additional contributions to health insurance costs by employees.
The budget should assume no layoffs in utility fund positions and that a utility rate study will be done in early 2012.
The budget should include fewer than 10 layoffs in the general fund.
Although we did not discuss these items, I would like them addressed:
Retain a total of four positions in the electronics division.
Present a plan for executing street repairs, including the number of positions to be retained, considering that we approved funding for streets from parking tax, stormwater PILOT and $20 car tab fees.
Another issue we discussed on Thursday is that the Council requests that the administration prepare a narrative explaining the principles behind the elements included in the budget. The Council never received a briefing on what the administration was trying to accomplish with the 2012 budget. We only received an explanation of the individual elements. The Council still does not know why the budget included laying off as many people as was proposed while maintaining staff and management salaries at high levels. This narrative should include a discussion of the long term (the next two or three years) plan for PILOT, parking taxes, furloughs, health insurance costs and layoffs.
I think the action taken by the Council last Wednesday to delay action on the budget gives us a chance to make significant changes which will benefit all the citizens of Bremerton. I look forward to meeting with you on Monday afternoon to review the administration’s new budget proposal. I hope the proposal is something we can both support and present to the entire Council with a recommendation to approve.
President, Bremerton City Council