Among recommendations of the 2014 Citizens Budget Advisory Committee: Get rid of the "unelected pseudo-mayor."
CBAC Chairman Richard Stewart referred to Chief of Staff John Stewart (no relation), a target since Mayor Adrian O. Mapp took office on Jan. 1, even though the City Council approved the title and a salary band late last year.
Duties of the chief of staff (click to enlarge)
John Stewart is part of a team Mapp says is essential to re-branding the city and getting it in gear after eight years of a prior administration marred by extreme turnover at the top and dubious fiscal practices. Besides Stewart, Mapp's team includes the first full-time, permanent chief financial officer since 2007, a public information officer and a cabinet-level economic development director.
Critics, including the council members who approved the job, say the chief of staff is a stand-in for the part-time mayor, who holds a full-time position as finance director in another municipality.
Richard Stewart called for elimination of the $80,000 chief of staff post Monday, as part of the CBAC report which also faulted the budget review process and deplored the Health Division's failure to inspect two-thirds of city food establishments.
He said the CBAC got late notice of the meeting schedule and only got to review a fraction of city divisions. In addition, only two of seven council members attended all six budget deliberation sessions, he said. The committee's report found both Police and Public Works top-heavy with supervisors and dismissed the explanation that superiors worked together with lower-ranking and lower-paid employees.
Overall, the committee found a lack of measurable outcomes and data to support budget requests and called for a full-time grant writer to seek outside funding.
The council also received a report Monday from budget consultant Lawrence Caroselli of .Government Strategy Group, calling for elimination of all new positions except for the Recreation superintendent. Caroselli and Government Strategy Group CEO Kenneth DeRoberts offered an alternative to the administration's proposed budget that would increase taxes on the average $113,000 home by $129. Their plan, which included reducing use of surplus and insurance funds, would result in an increase of only $93, they said.
Chief Financial Officer Ulrich Steinberg and Finance Director Ron West asked Council President Bridget Rivers to allow a rebuttal, but she refused, telling them to 'put it in writing and put it on the internet."
The meeting Monday also included a public hearing on the introduced budget. West rose to speak as a resident and said last week Caroselli had called the budget "reasonable." West called Caroselli's urging to eliminate the person in charge of economic development among items that made no sense.
The next step is for the council to amend the budget and hold a hearing on the amendments before final passage.