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Further Details!

August 8, 2005

Regarding the Chris Charuhas commentary, Brains, Braun and Berlin, a couple of more detailed explanations.

There is a new way to understand our city budget.

Property tax distress and rising governmental costs are issues brought up by citizens regardless of age or income. I would like to have a goal toward solving this on-going struggle by looking at exactly what we need to financially operate the city by separating our budget process and decision making into two areas:

a.) Health and safety category, such as police, water, sewer, trash, etc.

b.) Quality of life category, such as the Weinberg Center, Frederick Keys, Clustered Spires Golf Course, etc.

By utilizing this approach our citizens would be able to get a clearer rationale and understanding of how much money it takes to make our city run efficiently and exactly where it's allocated, instead of knowing only bits and pieces of the budget. We need to rethink the staid budget practice of cutting a service here or there, or employees being told they will be laid off-only to have their jobs saved at the last minute with the emotional toll that takes, or raising taxes for a short-term fix.

With this new approach, hopefully the potential of another budget debacle for FY ’07 won't be repeated.

When these categorical expenses are balanced against our projected revenue, we should be able to understand why costs are the way they are with the associated taxes, and redirect priorities if and when necessary in a more thoughtful, deliberate manner.

I would like to see a citizens’ budget task force created to work with our city financial staff to determine which item goes into which category. We should also take the budget into our neighborhoods to explain it in better detail to as many citizens as possible. We can use the 12 NAC meeting places to invite the citizens to attend. Let's go to them instead of making them come to us.

If we want real transparency, openness, and leadership in government, this is a good place to do it.

Also, I have said that while we would definitely save considerable city expenses by consolidating our employee health insurance from three companies to one, I did not put it in a category of helping save employee cuts. It is part of the big picture of reviewing all of our expenditures to be sure we are maximizing the revenue we get long before we ask for more money from taxes or fees.

Ken Berlin
Candidate for Alderman
The City of Frederick

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