Among takeaways from the Citizens Budget Advisory Committee report Monday, the city is figuratively rifling the sofa cushions for money (finding unspent bond ordinance balances) to fund long-desired road repairs, supporting development deals that amplify tax income and using other people's money (aka grants) to get stuff done.
CBAC Chairman Sean McKenna put it much more formally, stating the end result as "tremendous results in stabilizing and managing" the city's finances.
The full report will soon be online at the city's website. Meanwhile, CBAC findings included a recommendation that the committee should be formed early and serve all year in an advisory capacity.
The committee made specific recommendations for each of the city's three departments. For Administration & Finance, CBAC urged full implementation of Mitchell Humphrey, a software system that improves operations, and suggested using upcoming union negotiations to seek more control over long-term pension costs and sick-pay liability.
For Public Works & Urban Development, CBAC recommended completion of a road improvement program, updates to city recreation facilities and continued improvement in Parks & Recreation management.
Public Affairs & Safety covers the 24/7 Police and Fire divisions, which are prone to overtime costs. CBAC hailed the proposed hiring of twelve additional recruits for each division as a way to rein in overtime costs, noting the two divisions account for about 60 percent of city expenditures.
Economic Development is not a department, it is the job of the Deputy City Administrator for Economic Development. Besides having the most cumbersome title in the cabinet, Carlos Sanchez inherited the challenge of changing the city's reputation with developers. CBAC's comment was to "continue with excellent management" which has resulted in over $230,000,000 in active development projects.
Plaintalker will put up a link to the full report once it is up on the city website.
The City Council's Finance Committee will meet this week to discuss possible amendments to the 2017 budget. There will be a reserved space on the May 8 agenda for passage of the budget if no amendments are needed. If there are any amendments, they will have to be published in a legal notice and final passage will then take place at a special meeting.
A special member of the audience was Daionna Taylor, a nominee for the Plainfield Youth Commission, which is in the process of being reactivated. Mayoral nominations for Taylor and Khahriyyah Muhammad will be up for a vote on May 8. Taylor is already involved in public service as a cadet for the Plainfield Rescue Squad.
So far, the commission has two adult members as required, Nancy Jordan and Kelly Shaw. In addition to the two mayoral nominees, the commission can have two City Council members and nine more young people. See a link to Boards & Commission and an application form here.
The first members of the Youth Commission in 2006 were four members of the same family. When their terms expired no new members were appointed.
The regular City Council meeting is 8 p.m. Monday, May 8 at Municipal Court, 325 Watchung Ave.