The following is the latest installment of Mayor Jim Boroff's monthly updates on city issues.
At the last regular City Council meeting, the members passed their version of the 2011 budget, which reflected about $72,500 in cuts from the balanced budget I proposed. This was done to offset their desired rollback in the use of sewer administration funding.
It needs to be made abundantly clear that the administration's proposed budget and the Council-passed budget are, indeed, balanced - but each is balanced on the backs of our non-represented employees who soon will be entering their third year of a seven-percent cut in pay and hours. To date, this pay reduction savings is calculated to be in the range of $200,000 to $210,000.
During the past three years, the administration has cut expenses, renegotiated contracts and undertaken other cost-cutting measures that total some $980,000 in savings to the general, sewer and capital improvement funds. We also have maintained a high level of services while sustaining a workforce that is 18 fewer full-time equivalent employees since 2002 authorized strength. This amounts to a reduction of more than 13 percent of our workforce. Now we will truly be working at bare bones.
These are the cuts that Council included in its version of the budget:
Overtime appropriations in the finance office will be reduced by $1,000. It needs to be said that the employees in that office already are scrambling to do 100 percent of their work in 93 percent of their time. This further hampers their efforts to get their work done on time -especially in the Income Tax Department.
If you have questions about issues facing the city, please write to me in care of 51 E. Market St., Tiffin, or at firstname.lastname@example.org. I am happy to speak with anyone who has concerns, suggestions or questions about the city. Call my office at (419) 448-5401 or stop by without an appointment. To ensure I am available, call ahead.
Council will be reducing contract compensation to the Seneca Economic and Industrial Development Corp. by a total of $5,000.
The receptionist position in the engineer's office will be eliminated. This means during business hours, that office sometimes will be closed if all of our other personnel are out in the field conducting inspections and doing other work.
Council's budget reflects charging Columbian and Calvert High School for ambulance service at football games. This will result in a savings of about $2,500. Needless to say, the schools will have to find other resources to cover this change.
We will see the elimination of the Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies Inc. certification for our police department by reducing its budget line by $5,000. The effects of this will not be immediately apparent because the quality and training of our officers still will be of the highest standards. However, in discussing this issue with representatives of the local universities and school system, they believe this certification has real meaning. I am told parents see this as a great plus when determining where to send their children to college.
The CALEA certification also carries other weight when officers testify in court and it also reduces the city's liability insurance.
Funding for the field service officer will cease after Brian Feasel's retirement from that position at the end of March. As happened in 2004 when the city laid off the field service officer, parking issues will increase in the downtown area and dog and wild animal control will almost cease to exist. The field service officer handles hundreds of animal-control complaints - especially in the late spring and summer months. Our police officers will not be able to respond to every call nor are they trained to use trapping equipment and/or tranquilizer guns.
The custodian who maintains the Municipal Building and Finance Building will be discharged at a projected savings in 2011 of $28,000. Meanwhile, $20,000 of this savings will be paid to an outside service hired to perform the rudimentary functions of the day-to-day cleaning. Among the other vital duties that will not be attended to, include:
Boiler monitoring. Our custodian continually monitors the water levels, adds the necessary chemicals and bleeds the radiator system. If this is not attended on a regular basis, we run the continual risk of expensive repairs.
Pest control. Our custodian proactively maintained an insect and pest control program in our building. Prior to that, the city was paying about $2,500 per year for outside services.
Security. Having an independent cleaning service in the finance office will require that we implement security measures, including purchasing some sort of dolly which will be used to move income tax records from the vault to the work area and back each day. Other records will have to be locked away at the end of each day. It is estimated that at least 15 minutes of productivity will be lost by each employee each day.
Mechanical maintenance. The on-site custodian constantly was adjusting and making minor repairs on many of our mechanical systems, thus avoiding thousands of dollars in repair bills each year.
Outside maintenance. We have nothing in the Council-adopted budget that addresses window washing, snow and ice removal, mowing at Lions' Park, policing the front and side areas for litter and trash, leaf pickup, boulevard weed control and brush and minor tree trimming.
Inventory administration. Council budgeted nothing for ordering and stocking paper and cleaning inventories that are not provided by the cleaning company, nor are there provisions for someone who will work with vendors, issue purchase orders and pay invoices.
Emergency cleanups. We will have no way of calling anyone in to clean up after someone is sick to their stomach or incontinent or tracks snow, leaves and/or mud in our public buildings.
Other considerations. There are dozens of other duties, including such things as paint retouching, brass fixture polishing, changing light bulbs and unlocking City Hall at the beginning of each business day, that are not accounted for in the budget.
Over the years, we have invested thousands of dollars in maintaining and making improvements in our administrative buildings. We certainly want to protect our investment. For the sake of pride for our city and for the protection and maintenance of a valuable asset, I urged Council to consider the restoration of the position of custodian. It is the city administrator's belief and my firm belief that the $8,000 in proposed savings soon will be offset by maintenance repair issues which could, in most cases, be avoided by a full-time, onsite staff person.
Although I did not agree with many of these changes made by Council, I did not challenge them. We have far too many more pressing issues facing our city than any more protracted, heated exchanges among the council members and between council and the administration. I signed the budget as passed by Council in an effort to restore harmony and trust in city government.
I pledge to City Council, the employees and - most importantly - the citizens of Tiffin that the administration will do our very best to make this budget work in the coming year.