The needler in the haystack.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Is Pension Deferral Plan Mayor Sharon's Hail Mary Pass?

Is Mayor Sharon Robinson-Briggs trying to put Plainfield taxpayers on the hook for 30 years worth of payback for a one-time budget gimmick?

Writing in today's Courier (see here), reporter Mark Spivey quotes Robinson-Briggs front man Marc Dashield as saying --
...[E]mbracing the state's three-year [deferral] plan would result in the city paying approximately $600,000 more per year over a 30-year period, although he warned that figure would likely increase as the cost of the pension payments themselves rise...

Dashield added that the deferral could be limited to one year in a best-case scenario.

"We definitely need to take it this year," he said, "but next year, our goal is to fund 100 percent."
Increasingly, this whole budget fiasco, with the Robinson-Briggs administration resolutely refusing to bring a seriously modified budget proposal to the table and instead shooting for a one-time gimmick that saddles any future administration with the onus of paying off the current Mayor's bill (shades of Christie Whitman!), looks like a 'Hail Mary' pass.

Not only that, Robinson-Briggs has the nerve to ask the Council to ADD NEW EXPENSES by hiring an IT director AND A 'SMALL' SUPPORT STAFF -- to the tune of what, a quarter of a million dollars or so? -- in this current budget.

Not to worry, it's only taxpayers' money.

More on that later.

-- Dan Damon

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aug said...

of her God given faults, boldness certainly isn't one.

Rob said...

A 9th grade math student could see the foolishness of this plan. But of course Gov.Johnny & Mayor Sharon wouldn't be able to. It's a shame. The Mayor's office in Plainfield doesn't require you complete 9th Grade math to get the job..

Anonymous said...

I do need to disagree with you about the IT Director position. Investing in IT, and making sure the employees use it is an investment, not an expense. We are losing money as we speak because of lack of efficieny in processes and productivity of workers.

Plainfield City is not in the business of babysitting. All those programs should be outsourced to a non-profit and monies used to fund IT.

If you don't think IT is needed, just look at the budget mess. If you had efficient tracking, processes and trained personnel on the applications, determining where the money is spent is much easier.

Dan said...

To Anonymous 9:02 AM --

I didn't say IT wasn't important. I just think the administration has some nerve trying to bring it up NOW, when it won't even seriously consider a budget adjustment.

Were you there when the administration sold the Council on all the IT investment they wanted approval for? I was.

Where was the administration's concern for an IT person then? I can't recall any.

There are other ways to fix this than drink the Sharon/Dashield Kool-Aid. Stay tuned.

Anonymous said...

The City definetly needs an IT management, but if the Mayor and Administrator want to hire in-house why can't it wait until the next budget year which begins July 1? Another possibility is to hire a consultant to assess, structure and manage the IT system(s) for the City. A neighboring municipality actually uses Rutgers for their IT management. Has anyone looked into that? A reliable, knowledgable consultant can save tax if the contract is structures correctly because there will be no expense for benefits (health, pension, etc) incurred by the City.

Anonymous said...

In response to Anonymous who said "If you don't think IT is needed, just look at the budget mess. If you had efficient tracking, processes and trained personnel on the applications, determining where the money is spent is much easier".....

There's no IT person in the world that can resolve the City's budget mess. The financial software used by the Comptroller's Office does provide for efficient tracking of where the money is spent. The City is in more of a need of a Comptroller than an IT person.

Overseeing the finicial applications is the responsibility of the Comptroller/CFO. Once a budget is struck and entered into the system, the software simply does not allow you to make a purchase within a division buget that exceeds the budgeted amount for a specific budget category. What causes the problem is that the Comptroller can simply transfer funds between lines to accomodate a purchase. Then as you get to the end of the fiscal year, money from other division budgets can be transferred to another budget to meet the anticipated shortfall.

And too many times we have heard that the budget is just a guide. It is definitely not a budget that is followed.

Anonymous said...

When did they realize a director of IT was needed? Before or after they entered into that 408,000 dollar deal with "no contract" as reported by PT, Ms. Paglia. I hear the police department has a captain(125k), a sergeant(90k), and two police officers(160k), running a makeshift IT team. That's 375k worth of police protection inside a building playing tech tag. C'mon people wake up!