Tuesday, May 2, 2017

CBAC: Keep Us All Year

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.



  1. The CBAC was informative and helpful to understand how the process worked for this team of appointed residents, and what they went through to come to the conclusions.

    The advisement of wanting to see more transparent and accountability for the city for the future is very admirable. The idea to have a CBAC year-round is lovely, we need to have the more residents involved with our government and not be uncomfortable to speak their mind on finance and or spending.

    Again, still wondering why we are bringing up the factitious 9.1 million in surplus. Last month Ron West informed us at council meeting, that it was not a surplus but an adjustment to the budget. Surplus cannot be noted until they have passed the previous year’s budget.

    We have to be very clear on what is ours to spend and what is being held for adjustments on the previous year budget, lack of knowledge of financial matters cause people to assume that we are better off then what we are if they are not correctly explained or used in sound bites.

    Last evening The First Mrs. Johnson made a point about who is working with the seniors as their liaison for the city. My heart was broken that the way that she was treated during public comments. Many of us forget that our Seniors have been around the block and they do not want to be double talked too.

    Seniors have every right to have the correct person with proper education that is able to understand their needs. We need to always remember that they have seen it all before, and we need to have respect for their feeling and thoughts process. I feel sorry for those who did not give Mrs. Johnson the respect that was due to her or with anyone who has a different of opinion.

    Communication is the major issue with the city and the residents, it is important that information is shared on all levels, The City Web site/ Facebook page is still not a site for all information as a whole, we need to work on this so that all the information available is accessed for all the residents to find out about services or shared services in the community

    We are lucky that we have TAP into and Bernice at Plaintalker to get the word out on real news that is so important to the citizens of Plainfield, so that we can be united as a community. We are trying to keep Queen City Pride up to date with getting as much information out that we can.

    It is important that in the world of social media and information that we keep repeating the same story so that others can and will be able to find out the happenings in town for everyone to enjoy.

    Update on QCP, we will be doing our 6th clean-up/ beatification this weekend. Also, we have started Wild Wednesday Dine Downtown to support our local restaurant and business tomorrow night. We will be checking out a new place that we have not dined at yet. Come out and support our city!

    If only we could have someone start our own street paper for Plainfield, that comes out with all off the information for the city, Charitable events, social and just fun news. I know someone who would be prefect to do this…

    1. Start a street paper? Then you'd complain about all the papers on the street and how they need to be cleaned up.

    2. A retired editor approached me about starting a weekly. But for an actual paper, you need about four operations, including printing and distribution. With a blog you just need to compose and post and let the readers find it. I worked on a Plainfield weekly in 1984-85 and let me tell you, it's a lot of effort! You need a staff and advertising to pay for it.

    3. Timothy - other than your post being all over the place - I am unsure why you either can't ask your questions in a manner that gets you the clarity that you need or you can't accept the answers given. A surplus can not be used or called a surplus until a budget appropriation is passed (i.e. approval of 2017 budget by council) - my 5 minute google search has quite a few results for this today. Proper fiscal management, and creation of reserve funds should be applauded and not treated as some strange Trumpian conspiracy. When people get their homes re-assessed and it lowers their taxes, it also lowers the revenue for the city but does not, in any way, change the needs for services performed by the city(expenses). Having the reserve funds to offset these periodic losses in revenue as well as the standard increases in various costs (energy, insurance etc.) is how we should expect our elected officials to manage our finances. Also, using it to make investments in important upgrades should also be praised - keeping the city current allows for improved efficiency which can mean holding or reducing headcount.

      You either aren't asking the right questions or you don't really care what the answer is. Information is important and communication is vital and both can always be improved in both the private and public sector. My guess is that no matter how much communication was improved it wouldn't matter to you - because you apparently only listen to what you want to hear.

      Also - why in the world would anyone want to get into the newspaper business? Printed news is on the decline - like it or not - who is going to invest in such an endeavor? Not anyone that is fiscally responsible or understands the costs of a newspaper.

    4. Bernice,

      We are 3/4 of way there with a street paper. With regards to the social media world today, I am not living in the past with printing and a formal editorial staff, trust me 35 years working in publishing and print media it is almost gone to the way side.

      We just need one person to organize all the information and format this into a daily, weekly or monthly downloadable piece for our mobile devices or desktops. With a printable format for those who can not access this information. We could on request print this out and leave copoes in the library, schools, Senior Center's and city hall.

      So that we all have an idea on the happenings and resources are out.

      Once the template is set and the rules are laid out it will be a breeze for a entry level person to input everything. We would have organizations send the information in a pdf or word doc with images.

      All about sharing the information that is out there and pulling it together. Thoughts?

  2. Why is it every time I go to a council meeting I feel like I’m witnessing an interrogation. Councilor Toliver should really invest some of that 10K we pay her a year to sit there and be tolerant,among other duties and responsibilities,and invest in some anger management sessions. Toliver seems to be a very unhappy and angry person and the way she speaks to our professional administrators is beyond disrespectful.

    1. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  3. Bernice why is that anytime someone post something about Councilwomen Toliver or Councilwomen Rivers, the former Councilwomen Brown, and especially the former Councilwomen Taylor you post it. I have commented several times about this failed administration, and Rebecca nasty ways and the Mappets on the council just VOTING yes just because and you don't post it. I know this is your blog but it would be nice if you were fair.

    1. I don't think your comment is as global as you think, but I took down the one in question. For the record, based on more than 30 years of observing Plainfield government, I do not believe this is a "failed administration" and I respect Rebecca for understanding her role as an elected official.

  4. That's your opinion and you are entitled to it. This is the worst administration I have ever seen. This town is so divided and I wish and I still have hope that the ladies will work it out. They both will beat Mapp. Now for Rebecca she is horrible. Now that's my opinion and I am sticking to it.

    1. Anon 11:57 - if there is any division in this town it is the result of people like Tracey Brown, Bridget Rivers, Dunn's, Toliver's, Briggs and Campbell's. Their only goal is to use the city as their own fiefdom for personal gain and do nothing to move the city forward.

      Brown has a list of successes from PMUA and City Council that would fit on a post-it note with plenty of room to spare. Bridget spends time "acting" like she want to do things "for the taxpayers" when she did absolutely ZERO while she was city council president. This is the same person who goes on and on about recreation needing to do more when she was the committee chair of recreation and also council president for two years and did NOTHING constructive.

      Campbell's are another one - years of involvement in school system for what result? Bloated budgets - revolving door of management and huge loss of students to charter schools. They can't even understand how economic development works and they are in the real estate business (though you wouldn't know by their contribution there either).

      When will people start asking Brown, Rivers, Campbell's, Toliver's etc. what they have ever accomplished in any of their municipal positions? Save the lofty empty bullet points on mailers and the ambulance chaser videos at the home of some poor kid killed in a shooting and start telling people what it is you HAVE done that would make you qualified to do anything in the future.

      I would recommend that voters not hold their breath waiting for a list because they can't provide one. Bridget can't even write a coherent election election mailer - take "building the community through community resources..." - what the hell kind of sentence is that anyway? Those are just a string of words put together that mean absolutely nothing.

      Pay close attention to what they all say - you will notice quickly that they do not provide a single solution nor do they provide examples of anything that would imply they have even a basic understanding of city government, finances, economic development or public safety.

    2. Pleases don’t leave out the fact that the Campbell’s could never get signs, election petitions and other documents correct; run a city, lord help us. If you notice the Tracey Brown signs have at least 2 different spelling for her first name. The small blue, green & white ones have Tracy and the large ones have Tracey, what is? Who’s actually running? Little things like this tells me none of them are ready for prime-time.

  5. To Anon,11:57, and Anon,3:51, Yes I am Brown for Mayor Camp.To suggest that Rev.Tracey Brown has done nothing for Plainfield while on several boards is ludicrous. Are you suggesting that you know how she voted on every single issue? That none of her votes helped the city or school board.She voted yes for Family Paid Sick Leave, Yes for various projects that are suppose to move the city forward, yes to save Liberty Apartments, yes on new businesses in Plainfield, Yes to shut down an unsafe bar recommended by the police dept.Yes to Mapps appointees. I can go on and on to talk about how she voted and supported legislature that has benefited the city. I am sure you would need more than a posted note to list her successes. What has she done for the city personally and through her church, glad you asked but not enough room or time to mention feeding the hungry all over the city(every Thanksgiving either a Feed the Children Truck, or another means to help families during the holidays, and really every day if people are hungry.), clothing drives, every month food is taken to Covenant Manor to help seniors who run out of food, monthly hot meals for guest at the YMCA, homeless residents are provided shelter at her church three times a year through the FISH program, for the last ten years every Christmas dinner is provided for the less fortunate and presents are given to everyone. Rev. Brown has received numerous Community Service Awards from major organizations suchas Plainfield Frontiers, the highest award from The National Association of Negro Business and Professional Women's Club,the Sojourner Truth meritorious Service Award, Zeta Phi BETA , Community Advocate Award, Delta Sigma Theta for Outstanding Accomplishments in Ministry Award, Recognition Award for LEADERSHIP by the Union County Urbam League, there are to many too list, along with proclamations and resolutions from politicians on the local and state level. When you say Brown has not done anything for Plainfield that again is ludicrous, and just plain nonsense. In reference to the signs the printer made a mistake and gave the signs to them for free. Really? This information was listed on a program fundraiser for Rev. Brown, maybe you should get a copy thereby you won't be ignorant to how she is an asset to this city. Lee Evans

    1. Dear Lee Even,did you mean to address this to Anonymous May 3, 2017 at 2:05 PM and not Anon, 11:57.Hmmm.

    2. Who thinks Lee Evens is an Associate Minister in Ruth Fellowship and works for a quasi government agency in Plainfield?

  6. I made a mistake with the Anons,sorry anonymous May 3rd, 11:57 AM. I am a proud member of Ruth Fellowship Ministries. I have said that on many occasions , not a minister. Thank you for the promotion, but not a minister. This again is just the silly deflections that people do when they have to eat their ignorant hateful, and sarcastic words.