Comments on Wednesday’s Aldermanic Forum

Fifth Ward Alderman Ron Naylor seems very proud that the FY2011 budget is down $700,000 from FY2007.

I went through those budgets and counted more than 40 positions eliminated since FY2008 — but, assuming a little hiring has been done this past fiscal year, let’s say we’re down about three dozen.

There’s been virtually nothing spent on equipment, in fact personnel account for 89% of expenditures now, according to the FY2011 budget. And with the recent exception of fuel costs, commodities have been pretty stable for a couple years.

So: $700,000 is pretty measly in this context. Why hasn’t the budget been whittled down several million?

The answer, of course, is that personnel costs are still not under control. That new purchasing director the city hired? She will get a double-digit raise after her first year on the job. So will any new union-affiliated worker. Health care costs are likewise still rising precipitously every year and employees are not paying a large enough share to keep up with them.

Additionally, if you read the check registers regularly you might suspect we have quite a lot of Workers Comp cases for our size. Wednesday I submitted a Freedom of Information Act request for payments out of that city fund going back a few years.

I find it interesting, by the way, to hear First Ward Alderman Bertrand Simpson suddenly put Workers Comp on his “List of Stuff Not to Blame Me For” that very same evening.

Simpson is a puzzle. At the DeKalb Area Women’s Center forum on the 21st, he argued that we should consider outsourcing police and fire. At the Egyptian Theatre on the 31st, he was all about getting new fire trucks and replacing all the fire stations.

Mr. Naylor, you are a puzzle, too. How is it you have a city website upgrade and an electronic newsletter on your campaign list of priorities? Did you miss last year’s upgrade, or are you saying it’s a failure? Also, here is the link to the latest issue of Community Connections for you.

If I have time this weekend, I will put together some city budget ideas together for FY2012.