Niagara Gazette

Opinion

November 3, 2013

GUEST VIEW: Campaign lies refuted: By the numbers

(Continued)

Niagara Gazette — The city engineer’s position is vacant, but research suggests we have to restore the salary paid to the last occupant in order to get a qualified candidate; the position is stipulated in the City Charter and cannot be left vacant indefinitely. $4,293 is to bring the salary of the administrative assistant to the city administrator in line with that of the assistant to the mayor, as has traditionally been the case. (The city council pays their assistant more, but he’s a man, whereas the other two are women. Does that seem fair?)

Overtime for all departments (including police, fire and DPW) is up $517,498 from what was budgeted for 2013. But wait a minute ... 2010 overtime was $2.5 million; 2011 and 2012 were $2.3 million; and then council cut overtime drastically to $1.5 million for 2013. I said at the time this would not be enough; police overtime especially was cut to an unrealistically low number. Council countered by created a “contingency account” (basically a slush fund) that was used to cover the mistakes made in the final budget they passed. What is total overtime year-to-date? About $2.5 million with two months to go! What did I propose for 2014? $2.0 million —up half a million from the unrealistic 2013 number, but less than what we actually spent in any of the last four years.

The same is basically true for wages for temporary and seasonal personal. I proposed a little over $500,000 for 2014, which is up substantially ($183,000) from last year’s unrealistically low $318,000, but still less than the $550,000 we spent in 2010. And remember — last year, because of the casino cash problem, was a low point for spending on popular, job-producing programs like Clean Neighborhoods and ZOOM (which is funded with casino revenues). Those programs are included in the 2014 proposal along with recreation, parks, streets, etc.

So, after all that, where are the alleged “raises” for “political cronies?” Out of the entire $1.1 million “increase” in wages alleged in the negative mailers, a grand total of $41,000 is proposed for stipends.

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