October 22, 2007

Budget Inflation

Justin Katz

You know, in the handful of town council meetings that I've attended in Tiverton, I don't think I've seen the council vote down a single increase in spending.

Glenn Steckman, the town administrator, just requested permission to advertise for an assistant position that would represent roughly a $10,000 per year increase in salary expense. (The current assistant is under contract, so I suspect increased benefits would also be a consideration.) The council gave him permission to advertise the position, but made no commitment on salary, just yet. The likelihood is minimal, it seems to me, that the council, upon receiving résumés, much less hearing the results of interviews, would decide not to go with the new position.

Inasmuch as I still haven't climbed the learning curve, I can't say whether such a position is worth the expense. I do, however, see a large number of For Sale signs in my neighborhood. And the little guy's hero on the council, Hannibal Costa, is not in attendance.

I really don't want to become more of a troublemaker than I already am, but many more spending-increase approvals, and I don't know whether I'll be able to resist an old time usurpation of the podium.


I should note that the council's spending has not struck me as profligate or unconsidered. I just don't think I've seen it turn anything down.

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What is the trend of the Tiverton student population, Justin? If it is decreasing, as South Kingstown's has been, any proposed increase in the school budget is questionable.

What does/would this "assistant" do? In view of the property tax situation and the fact that budgets have only ever increased, is it really, really necessary to keep this postion?

Posted by: Monique at October 22, 2007 9:07 PM

The position isn't associated with the school; it's an assistant to the town administrator (which appears to be a mayor-like position answerable to the legislative town council).

The administrator was initially looking to add a part-time human resources–type position, but he (as I recall) requested to add the responsibilities to the assistant position. So, in that respect, it might be a budget-saving move... assuming that some increased position is desirable.

My concern is that these things seem to keep adding up: a new vehicle that's needed for services, a new position, and so on. At the town level, how does one begin to restrain and reverse this process?

Posted by: Justin Katz at October 22, 2007 9:52 PM

--how does one begin to restrain and reverse this process?

Municipal bankruptcy.

Posted by: Ragin' Rhode Islander at October 22, 2007 10:18 PM

Does anyone have any definitive info on what exactly occurs in a municipal bankruptcy?
Somebody better brush up on it, because that's where many of the cities are headed too in the next decade or so.

Posted by: Mike at October 23, 2007 9:18 AM
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