As the Mayoral campain unfolds...
Several months ago on this blog someone raised the point that while critical observations and comment routinely appeared on the blog, no one came forward with ideas or approaches to address what was (then) a looming, obvious problem. Similarly, Mylott has faulted the City Council for the paucity of ideas or alternatives.
This past Monday (see: “More on the State of the City”) Rachel posted the following:
“Novel idea: why isn't someone running for mayor with the platform of CUTTING SPENDING by 10% for each of two successive years.”
Now, as a long time participant on this blog I was surprised, actually somewhat dismayed, to realize not one blogger reacted (pro or con) to such a uncomplicated premise and proposal. When you take the time to actually consider the suggestion it makes fundamental sense and should be thought provoking. The simplicity of the concept coupled with the opportunity presented, I believe, merits extensive consideration as the election campaign unfolds.
Setting an entirely arbitrary floor of $300K per suggested item, all the while recognizing that every little bit helps, a few suggested measures gleaned from this blog to halt the fiscal insanity to support Rachel’s idea:
1. FREEZE BOTH THE TAX RATE AND THE ASSESSED VALUATION FOR 5 YEARS AT 2005 LEVELS-Why? If, as been repeatedly indicated, continued growth is among the answers to the current fiscal situation-this forces Mylott to put money where your his mouth is (malapropism intended). A freeze allows additional revenue from growth because it facilitates growth and a freeze at 2005 levels eliminates any possibility of consideration for a decline in assessed valuation as took place during 2006. In short, Mylott is provided a financial cushion and a very short string.
2. CAP SCHOOL SPENDING-In conjunction with the above, cap any increase in spending to 2.0% maximum over the prior fiscal year for the nest 5 years.
3. CONSOLIDATE/MERGE CITY DEPARTMENTS-into 3 divisions-Public Safety (Fire, Police, DPW); Administration (City Clerk, Treasurer, Auditor, IT, Assessor, HR, Health, Building, Planning, Purchasing); Schools. Eliminate any position which includes within the position title “Assistant to,” “Deputy,” or any of the similarly various euphemisms. And, shut down the Fitchburg Redevelopment Authority as a needless duplication of effort.
4. IDENTIFY & AUCTION ALL OBSOLETE MUNICIPAL PROPERTY AND REAL ESTATE-within 6 months. No bids received-give the property to a non-profit developer with the understanding the property must be developed within 1 year into revenue producing property.
5. INVEST/LEASE AVAILABLE TECHNOLOGY-with the proceeds from #4
6. ELIMINATE THE SCHOOL COMMITTEE-There is simply no sound reason why Ward Councilors cannot fulfill the same function as the present School Committee AS A Committee of the Council.
7. ESTABLISH A SINGLE FLEET MANAGEMENT FACILITY FOR ALL CITY OWNED VEHICLES
8. OFFER A SINGLE OMNIBUS HEALTH MAINTENANCE PLAN TO ALL EMPLOYEES-gain the advantage resulting from economies of scale.
9. CAP ALL MUNICIPAL SALARIES AT $50k PER ANNUM-Place Dept. Heads and Managers on a bonus program where salary is supplemented by a 5% share of funds not spent by their Dept. For example, a Dept. budgeted at $5 million that spends $4 million would pay the Dept. Head an additional $50,000.
10.REVISE THE RULES & PROCEDURES OF THE CITY COUNCIL-
a. Eliminate any and all Petitions/Requests for Services for petty items such as curb repair, rainwater diversion, etc. Give ‘em directly to the Highway Dept. with a 14 day response requirement.
b. Any Petition must be acted and voted on by the full Council and the referred Committee within 60 days or less. Otherwise, the Petition is deemed approved.
c. Every Petition is referred to a Committee and the Finance Committee in order to determine a funding appropriation. No funding = no approval.
11.The name and address of each and every taxpayer more than 90 days in arrears is published along with the unpaid balance and appeal status, if any. One single list, published quarterly, by street address. This list includes delinquent water and sewer and excise tax delinquencies.
12.ENFORCE TRAFFIC/VEHICULAR OPERATION LAWS-All funds resulting from fines for violations are used exclusively to purchase replacement vehicles for Police, Fire and DPW Depts.
13.DOWNSIZE SCHOOL ADMINISTRATION-Expressed simply, if you are not a teacher or a School Principal or the Superintendent your job must be evaluated and justified annually-and the sole justification is in improvement to MCAS.
14.CAP ALL PROPERTY TAX FOR SENIORS (AGE 65+) AT $1000.00 ANNUALLY-assuming 10 consecutive year’s residence at the same location and no children in school.
15.CEASE FUNDING ANY AND ALL NON-CITY ORGANIZATIONS-Period, no exception. No Hispanic Council, No “Friendly Sons of the Shamrock,” no Inter-Faith Community Reach-Out, nothing.
16.Provide the Mayor a 4 year term and a maximum of 2 terms in office.
17.Close City Hall. Sell the property for development at auction. City Hall is nothing more than desk space, replaceable with a closet sized room and servers.