In the packet, a memo from the head of the city’s human resources department highlights one significant difference between the narrative about the budget presented in mid-August and the budget that the council will be asked to adopt.
That difference is the addition of a half dozen new parking services positions compared to last year, at a total cost of $398,870. They’re being added in connection to the planned opening of two new parking garages next year.
The six new parking services positions make up more than half of the 11.1 total new positions in the 2021 budget across the city’s whole organization.
The 1.6 positions that were a prominent part of the administration’s mid-August “belt-tightening” narrative about the budget are general fund positions. One is for a transportation demand management employee. The other 0.6 fraction is for human resources.
An additional 3.5 dispatcher positions are funded out of the public safety local income tax. The dispatch center is a joint effort between the city and the county. Those positions were mentioned specifically as a part of the written narrative from the police department in mid-August.
The six parking services positions don’t seem to have been a part of the administration’s mid-August narrative about new positions in the 2021 budget. Narrative aside, what about the numbers?
Were the parking services positions included in the dollar figures for the mid-August 2021 budget proposal, or weren’t they?
Responding to a request for clarification from The Square Beacon, the mayor’s office said on Monday, “The parking services positions were included in the dollar amounts associated with the mid-August budget proposal.”
That final piece of business could be finished by the end of the year, after a meeting on Oct. 24, between city officials and the police union. The city presented the union with its latest proposal for a contract, president of Fraternal Order of Police (FOP) Paul Post told The Beacon.
In late September, union officers told the city council at regular meeting that since mid-2018, the two sides had exchanged eight proposals, each with a counterproposal, for a total of 16 proposals. The most recent meeting would make nine rounds for a total of 18 proposals exchanged.
Monroe County now has what county councilor Geoff McKim on Tuesday night called a “maintenance budget” for 2020, which includes $83.1 million worth of expenditures. That’s about 4.8 percent more than the $79.3 million budgeted last year.
McKim said at Tuesday’s county council meeting that there are two issues not addressed in the 2020 budget, but would need attention in 2021—employee compensation and justice reform issues.
If employee compensation is not competitive in the labor market, the county needs to fund more in compensation, he said. Once the results of an in-progress criminal justice reform study come back, it would be possible to make systematic, prioritized investments for facilities and services alike, McKim said. That could require more investments in everything from mental health to the jail.
The vote on the seven-member council at Tuesday night’s meeting was 6–1, with the lone dissent coming from Marty Hawk. She said she supported almost everything in the budget, but did not support the $3.3 million general obligation (GO) bond.
The GO bond amount had been reduced by a vote of the council the night before, from $5.48 million, to the $3.3 million that appeared on Tuesday night’s proposal. Hawk made a motion Tuesday night to reduce it even more, to $2.6 million, and she had a list of the specific projects she wanted it to fund. The motion died for lack of a second.
The vote on the adoption of the budget is a separate question from the issuance of the bonds. A public hearing on the bond was held Tuesday night, but the vote on issuance was postponed until Oct. 22.