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We’ve got the latest dispatch in the ongoing efforts to find out how Councilman Jim Madaffer’s office overspent its budget by $176,000 – or 21 percent.

If you recall, last week we had trouble tracking down an answer from the office and when we did, well, it really didn’t answer our questions.

Here’s part of the response we just received via e-mail:

It is an honor to represent the people of the 7th District. As you well know, we have a number of initiatives underway all designed to improve our neighborhood quality of life. This continues to be my goal and I will do everything I can to continue providing the people of my district with the very best quality of service that they deserve.

I take pride in responsibly managing District 7 constituent services, returning excess resources to the general fund each year or saving them consistent with my mission to improve the quality of life for the constituents of my Council district. I continue to operate with that in mind daily.

In the last fiscal year, the District 7 constituent services were cut back when former City Manager Lamont Ewell equalized each of the Council office budgets. Funding for constituent services went down by $85,323 from $935,323 for FY05 to an even $850,000 for FY06. Prior to that date, allocations varied for each Council office. The District 7 funding for constituent services typically ranked in the top three budgets of all the Council offices. So conversely, our allocation was significantly reduced while others experienced increases. These changes presented challenges to our services to the district but we made up for the reduction last year through savings, voluntary furlough and responsible management.

Additionally, Madaffer says in the e-mail, his office has among the most senior employees serving the City Council. We take that to mean that they are paid well, based on their experience.

He continues:

During this past fiscal year, we began to aggressively market our new redevelopment areas: Grantville and Crossroads. As a result of our efforts, both of these redevelopment areas have experienced significant interest. In Crossroads, we have a number of projects now underway with more in the planning stages. In the Grantville area, we began work on the flooding issues and have worked with a number of entities interested in making significant improvements to the area once the County lawsuit is resolved.

Shortly after the beginning of FY ’06, I decided to use savings we saved from the prior year to fund our planned marketing efforts. The adjustments being made at this time simply memorialize that decision. This is something we decided and planned for over a year ago.

Some district residents took umbrage with the fact that $120,000 from the district’s infrastructure fund was being tapped to cover the shortfall.

We’ve asked for more specifics, including a breakdown of exactly what expenses came in over budget and if the overage is related to the councilman’s hiring former Mayor Dick Murphy’s press secretary as director of the Grantville redevelopment area.

Scroll down to entries from last Thursday and Friday for more This Just In posts on the issue.

ANDREW DONOHUE

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