Who Oversees Those Who Oversee The City of Annapolis? ~ Annapolis Capital Punishment

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Who Oversees Those Who Oversee The City of Annapolis?

The below release is an interesting development from a group originally created to address serious crime issues in Eastport. It seems that they are beginning to understand that crime-fighting was just the tip of the iceberg in terms of the mismanagement of our municipal affairs. This below news release is really interesting, but I am not sure I completely agree with it or understand it, although I fully support the goal of transparency in government. After all, we're talking about a budget and I can hardly balance a checkbook.
On the face of it, I believe that the City is probably fairly well managed in terms of financial operations and have said this before. It has been confirmed by our consistently high bond ratings, but there are underlying, structural issues--major issues. Unfortunately I think there are probably only two people in city government who really understand the budget in its entirety, and again, this is a strong case for us becoming a City Manager form of government, as I have consistently supported. I find it hard to believe that the city's budget has grown the way this release claims it has grown. It's unusually difficult for this city to raise revenue due to the high percentage of nontaxable property. Cities always have trouble raising revenue, but unlike the federal folks, we can't print money. I don't think we have a philosophy of economizing or a management ethic that promotes efficiency. I speak from eight years of experience as a city employee, and I know for certain that efficient use of resources was never on the front burner at the Transportation Department. Some call it tax and spend. I think that probably fits the philosophy of the mayor and the majority of city council members. Jule Stankivic is probably the most consistently fiscally conservative member but Republicans Paone and Cordle probably lean that way as well.
However, fuel prices are way up and health care costs continue to grow. It's not cheap to provide good services, and in many respects, we provide good services to a populace that has a high demand and a high expectation. I could go on, but let the Eastport folks have their say:

Press Release - May 8, 2008

Annapolitans United Against Crime
Contact: Stanford Erickson
202 297- 3419

The same Annapolis Mayor who spent months denying that there was a crime problem in Annapolis, who said we should trust her on the management of the Market House, is now attempting to steamroll a budget through the City Council that calls for a 20% increase in raises for her personal staff along with a 4.56 percent cost-of-living increase for most city employees, said organizers of the Annapolitans United Against Crime."

"We started this organization to stop the gunfire in Eastport, but as we have studied the proposed City Budget, which is to be voted on May 12, to determine if there is enough money being funneled to prevent crime, it soon became apparent that mismanagement of public safety is just the tip of the iceberg of how Annapolis is autocratically undermined by Mayor Ellen O. Moyer," said Cindy Cole.

“Mayor Moyer is the CEO of our city, she proposes a budget but the City Alderpeople are responsible to all of us Annapolitans for spending that is reasonable during times in which our costs are going up and our tax-based property values are declining,” said Babe Feldman, a steering committee member of Annapolitans United Against Crime (AUAC). “We are looking to the City Council to not rubber stamp the Mayor’s budget but to thoroughly vet it, justify it and explain to us, the voters, the budget they ultimately approve.”

While the mayor is not receiving a raise herself, the budget for the Mayor's Office alone includes $171,036 in salaries for new positions that is on top of $86,725 in pay increases for existing positions, said Julie Mussog who heads up the Budget Committee for Annapolitans United Against Crime. “The overall amount of pay increases in the Mayor's Office is 14 percent.”

The cost-of-living adjustment for state employees in 2008 is 2 percent and for federal employees 2.3 percent.

“During Moyer's term, the Budget has gone from $29 million to $81 million,” said Bob McWilliams, also a member of the AUAC steering committee. “That is a 279 percenn increase or 19 percent compounded annual growth rates while the population of Annapolis has stayed about the same. According to information provided by a budgetary city official, the capital investment per citizen (CIP) for Annapolis today $4,369 per capita versus $2,156 for Rockville taxpayers, $1,150 for Baltimore taxpayers and $3,201 for Hagerstown taxpayers.”

“In reviewing the budget, one of the first items that came to my attention was the lack of serious effort to hold city departments accountable for explaining increases and for justifying them with measurable objectives,” Julie Mussog. “For most Departments, the goals and objectives are fairly abstract and do not well represent what the Departments actually do. I was most disappointed to see that the police department’s number one goal was continuing the renovation of Department Headquarters, since that seems to fall under central services not the police department. The number two goal was continuing to address community concerns. There was no reference to recruiting goals.”
“I was pleased to note that there is an additional $50k allotted for police recruitment in next year’s budget,” said Mrs. Mussog. “I hope that will go a long way to filling some of our 20+ open positions. But I also was surprised that this year’s budget for the police department includes the salary for all 20+ open spots, and since these spots were never filled, that should have been an almost $2M surplus in their budget this year. Knowing that it is unrealistic to hire over 20 officers in one year, we could just hold the budget steady and allow the police department to reallocate these funds into technology until more officers can be hired. According to the ICMA, these technology investments should go a long way to enhancing public safety.”
Stanford Erickson, also an AUAC steering committee member and credited with creating the title “Stop the Gunfire in Eastport Now”, suggests that citizens need to ban together and create a new taskforce called, “Stop the Mismanagement of Annapolis Now!”


blogger templates | Make Money Online