The Morning Report
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In this post, I’ll attempt to answer some of the feedback that I have received from readers.

  • Jan takes me to task for calling Jerry … well … Jerry. A lot of folks still call him Chief. Some call him Mayor Sanders. To me, he’s Jerry. I think most people appreciate the fact that he’s approachable and doesn’t demand to be referred to by his elected title.
  • Dale and Billy Bob Henry write in about funding the pension system, I’ll do a post on that subject alone in a few seconds.
  • TJ writes about the police officer raise. A separate posting will also follow.
  • Larry asked how many of the 671.53 positions that the mayor plans to eliminate are vacant. Look here for a copy of the fact sheet that we distributed on the budget overview. The answer is that as of March 13, 2007, 302 of those positions are filled. But, more importantly, all 672 are funded positions so there will be a savings from all of the positions going forward. Over the course of the past year, vacant positions were intentionally held vacant so that they could be eliminated. The city has an elaborate union system of “bumping rights” which means that many of the 302 employees in filled positions will be able to transition into our vacant positions. As a result, it will be impossible to say just how many employees will be laid off until after all of the dust settles.
  • Richard Tanner’s questions about service levels were answered in my last post.
  • Ian Trowbridge asks three great questions: 1) How did the mayor save $50 million. Answer: take a look at the fact sheet — through Business Process Re-engineering. 2) Does 710 fewer employees mean lay-offs or vacancies? See the answer above. The bottom line is that 710 positions will be permanently eliminated from the city budget. And 3) Will any cuts be made in the mayor’s staff? Yes. Technically, all departments under the mayor are employees so one could argue that those cuts apply but we have gone farther. There have been and will be a number of reductions in the staff closest to the mayor.
  • Christopher Hall writes in to say that a 9 percent reduction in the workforce will equal drops in service levels. I don’t know that we buy into this premise. Over the past decade, the city’s payroll has grown by thousands of employees. Have service levels increased? The answer is no. In fact, in the three years preceding Mayor Sanders coming into office, municipal services were slashed repeatedly. More employees on a payroll do not have a direct correlation to greater effectiveness and it certainly has very little correlation to greater efficiency. The mayor’s position is that we will ask our dedicated city employees to do more. He is incredibly appreciative of their efforts and consistently has recognized them for their tremendous efforts in very tough times. But he also does not intend to stop cost-cutting and streamlining.

The alternative to reform is either a) a cut in services; or b) a tax increase. Pick your poison. We don’t believe in either.

Soon to follow are postings are on the police raise and the pension system funding.

FRED SAINZ

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