Public Watchdog.org

Under Water And All Wet

03.11.09

Today’s Park Ridge Journal reports that that City Mgr. Jim Hock has released a draft 2009-10 City budget that projects a deficit of almost $2 million, based on anticipated revenues of $50.7 million and expenses of $52.6 million. (“Budget Plan Shows $2 Mil. Deficit,” March 11).

Coming on the heels of two straight years of shortfalls totaling approximately $3 million that have cut into the City’s reserves, this latest news is not encouraging just standing on its own.  But it becomes even more troubling in light of how the current City administration of Mayor Howard “Let’s Make A Deal” Frimark and his merry band of Alderpuppets appears to be out to lunch when it comes to finances and infrastructure.

Consider the flooding problem, which earned a front-page mention in today’s Journal (“Sewer Back-Ups, Flooding: Is There No End?”).  That story reports on flooding this past weekend, much of it up in the Second Ward.  The problem has become so chronic and the City so unresponsive that people are taking such drastic action as building their own water storage vaults or, in one instance, even tearing down and rebuilding their home!

That story also shows the cluelessness of Frimark and his most senior City Council lieutenant, Alderpuppet Rich DiPietro.
According to the Journal story, Frimark reportedly visited several flooded neighborhoods and determined that there were sewer problems.  Brilliant!  DiPietro reminisced about the construction of a relief sewer in his own Manor neighborhood 14 years ago, noting that it worked wonderfully until about a year ago.  Brilliant! 

So, guys, how about telling all these flooded taxpayers why the City cut back its relief sewer installation from an already meager 1,240 linear feet (@ $318,749) in budget year 2007 to a positively paltry 940 linear feet (@ $156,000) in budget year 2008?  That 940 linear feet is basically a whopping 3 city blocks!

In typical alderpuppet fashion, DiPietro – who has been little more than the sounds of silence on flooding in his ward and everywhere else until now – suddenly wants to authorize the spending of $80,000 for…wait for it… “an engineering study.”  And that’s for just the Manor Lane area, up in his Second Ward.  But $80,000, however, is more than half of the relief sewer construction budget for 2008, and it won’t keep one basement any drier when it’s done.  Brilliant! 

But the last word on this problem, at least for now, goes to Frimark the Politician, who hoists the empty assurance and the empty promise that: “We have solutions in mind and we will dedicate as much money as we possibly can to fixing these problems.”  In typical Frimark fashion, the solutions and the source of the money are his little secret.

So what we’ve got, it seems, is a community under water; a budget under water; and a mayor who’s all wet.

3 comments so far

Under water and again out of power. We had another power outage again last night. I love waking up in a panic and not knowing what time it is because my clock is flashing on 12:00.

Mayor Frimark just hasn’t made good on any of his promises from four years ago. I’m not willing to risk another four years of the same do-nothing approach to what this town needs.

Since revenues are down, maybe someone could explain something to me. I got a parking ticket maybe a year or so ago and was shocked to learn that my phone call was being answered by a Milwaukee based processing facility. If I were to pay the ticket, the payment would have been sent to this Milwaukee firm. Since I contested the ticket, I had to attend court at PR city hall.
Maybe my logic is faulty but it would seem to me that this processing facility is charging the city something to process my ticket. My guess would be they charged a percent of the fine. Why are we giving away our revenues? Maybe the amount of revenue we loose is small because we don’t write that many tickets. If we don’t write that many tickets then our current staff should be able to handle collecting the fines. Maybe we write so many tickets that our staff can’t handle it. Again my twisted logic would have me believe we could hire a person or two for less money than the processing facility takes. Keep in mind that PR still has to hold it’s kangaroo court for those who contest their tickets so there is no savings there.

Maybe I am way off base here, but it would sure seem to me that the processing fees this company takes could be put to better use in PR. At $50 – $100 dollars per ticket I have to believe there is a fair amount of money being sent to Milwaukee.

Can anyone shed some light on this? When did PR start doing this and why? How much does it cost us?

Interesting question you bring up. I would urge you to e-mail this to your Alderman and ask him for an explanation.

The problem is right now we do not have enough information to know if this is a good decision.

I know in my experience in the private business there are processes that I have contracted out that have provided a huge cost savings and better service.

Your assumption seems to be that the processing fees payed are greater than the cost of the city doing it themselves. This may not be the case.



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