Friday, October 17, 2008

Randy, Doug & Dan!

Last evening’s New Albany Common Council meeting was unique in a number of ways.

For one, Doug England was present from beginning to end. For another, Carl Malysz was nowhere to be found.

Then there was Mr. Randy Smith who rose to the podium to remind the Council of their historic unwillingness to raise taxes & services rates regardless of the need to do so. He also suggested the budget be frozen at 2007 levels and let the chips fall where they may.

To his credit he managed to not be removed from the room although he did get gaveled out of order by President Gahan later in the evening.

And for the second meeting in a row CM Coffey remained calm, cool & collected. Well for the most part anyway. He voice did raise an octave or two when an employee of the New Albany Housing Authority dared to disagree with him about his memory of the origin and distribution of monies within that entity when he was on their board. (circa the1990’s)

The Mayor (that’d be Doug ‘cause Carl weren’t there) came to the podium to inform the Council that the storm cleanup, although expensive, was for all practical purposes done. That was the good news.

The bad news was that your man Mitch (he sure as hell ain’t mine) has yet to declare our fair county/city a disaster area. Further more, there have been no clear indicators of either when or if he will.

Which brings me to a burning question. Where are the Floyd County Executives (i.e. the Commissioners) in this conversation? Oh wait! Floyd County doesn’t have any infrastructure worth selling off to the highest bidder to further pad the State coiffures does it.

But I’m getting off task here. As a result of the untimely storm, the Governors inaction, and the States tardiness in handling our local budget issues we are in fact up the creek without a paddle.

All that being said the Mayor’s position is that he will work within the legal constraints of the budget monies available. If that means cuts in jobs & reduced services to the public, so be it!

He once again reminded all present that we in New Albany have one of the lowest property tax rates in the State. If I heard correctly our rate is $0.80 per $100.00 of assessed value.

Mayor England went on the say that he would balance this budget because he is legally required to and that his administration would work closely with this Council to formulate a 2009 budget that all can agree to. However at the current tax rate and unless someone can wave a magic wand, freezing the 2009 budget at 2007 levels will result in even more reductions in public services. The dollars just aren’t there.

CM Price of course put forward the same ole same ole of parking take home cars, cutting overtime, restricting cell phone us, etc, etc,……….

The remainder of the evening was spent on first readings of various ordinances pertaining to the 2009 budget.

The most telling of which was R-08-43, a Resolution to Reduce 2009 City Budget to offset State Shortfall. This is basically requiring all city departments (except of course Police, Fire, & Safety Services) to trim yet another 10% from the operating costs.

In the case of the aforementioned Safety Services, that cut was a minimum 12 to 15%. A “Good Luck doing that” sigh was felt across the room.

The mayor stated the if necessary we could expect to see Police administration officials on street patrol duty.

Following my 3rd District Councilman’s lead I suggested to the fire chief that he could save thousands if he were to remove the inside dual tire on all of the fire engines and use PVC couplers & radiator hose clamps to repair damaged fire hoses.

Or better yet, let the houses burn completely to the ground thus saving the Building Commission the costs of demolition after the fact. Hauling off a dump truck load of ashes has to be cheaper and quicker than demolishing a half burnt building.

I know, I know, that ain’t funny. But it is about as realistic as a citizenry demanding $3.00 worth of services while only putting .50 cents in the kitty. Cats & rabbits breed fast enough to replenish themselves but I’ve yet to see even pennies, nickles & dimes do so to the scale we are talking about.

At any rate with the exception of A-08-14, which authorized the spending of a federal grant for a new radio system in the Fire Department and R 08-42 which amounted to a 5 year tax abatement for Rite-Way Industries, the other menu items were in one way or another centered around the budget.

There is a Council work session scheduled for Thursday October 23rd @ 6 PM to discuss the budget (again). The Council requested that city department heads attend this workshop to assist in trimming the fat.

As per Kay Garry, the Council has two more meetings in November to get the details hammered out & agreed to. The drop dead date is December 1st.

Happy New Year New Albany!

Just a footnote; I've cross-posted this article over at NA Confidential!

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At Fri Oct 17, 10:15:00 PM, Blogger All4Word said...

Hell, Lloyd. What have you got me involved in now? There's no telling what the ninth generation of your tall tale will turn into before it's over.

One guy's giving budget feedback to me as if I had anything to do with it.

I don't have the time to explain fund accounting, sources and uses, reverting and non-reverting accounts, etc. Maybe you can take that one on.

I do know this - this city's in a world of hurt, and it got that way because of the council we've got.

You'll recall that last evening, when addressing the council about their duties, I prefaced everything with "on the whole." The WHOLE council needs to solve this.

If we start losing police officers and firefighters, we're going to regret it for a long, long time.

That Boy Scout troop in attendance last night had no idea how important a meeting it was, but they will look back and remember it by the time they're eligible to vote.

At Sat Oct 18, 01:24:00 PM, Blogger Highwayman said...


I wish I could explain the budget process.

Problem is, it's been explained so many times in work sessions, budget hearings, & appropriation hearings, that I'm confused!!

My confusion stems not so much from the explanations from Kay & others, but from trying to understand how many of our Council members don't, won't, or can't get it!

I think it's obvious to most that spending more than is coming in is not good policy.

It baffles me however that so many don't, won't, or can't grasp the concept that the only way to maintain service levels is to bring in more dollars.

There is much talk behind closed doors about bringing the sewer utility back into the fold as a stand alone entity.

Meaning that the monies collected by that utility would stay in that venue for the operation, upkeep & maintenance of its infrastructure both now and in the future.

There is equally as much closed door conversation wanting to use the sewer utility as a cash cow for other purposes.

That sort of approach is as much as any other single factor what got us in this mess to begin with.

The fact it did so slowly over a period of decades does not change the reality of it.

Administration & Council members both past and present have contributed to this dilema and what's done is done.

The question remains. Has New Albany, like Wall Street, reached bottom and ready to take a different approach to the problem?

Or are we going to continue down the same tired path until there is nothing left to salvage?

As to our young visitors Thursday evening, I can only hope that I don't run into one of them a few years from now only to have him approach me with a look of incredulity on his face and ask;

"What the hell were you guys thinking a decade ago?"

At Sat Oct 18, 06:20:00 PM, Blogger edward parish said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

At Sat Oct 18, 09:31:00 PM, Blogger edward parish said...

That was my post that I deleted earlier, sorry Randy if I didn't make myself anymore clear on NAC. You and I are polar opposites on alot of what you have done since you have been taking a stand of changing this city, for example outsourcing work. It doesn't work that way in other progressive cities, it must be your mindset that it works here. Please note that it is easy for you to be a target for citizens frustration when you desire to take the lead and make your purposals to the local government. One question, why not run for office?


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