Public Watchdog.org

“Hopelessly Flawed” Budget Unworthy Of Park Ridge Taxpayers

04.21.10

The Park Ridge City Council has voted to pass a budget which Mayor Dave Schmidt has described as “hopelessly flawed” and has said he will veto.  

The reasons Schmidt cites for that conclusion are many, including his belief that City Mgr. Jim Hock’s revenue projections are seriously overestimated, as they were – by a whopping $2.1 million – for the current budget year; and the budget’s failure to address the $936,000 reduction in state tax revenue sharing that Gov. Pat Quinn already proposed, and that state rep. Rosemary Mulligan already warned the Council about.  

Schmidt also takes issue with the $165,000 budgeted to battle O’Hare Airport, especially the hiring of a lobbyist at $105,000 which he called “a colossal waste of money.  And he questions how the Council could justify cutting personnel from the City’s police, fire and public works departments but then donate $186,000 of public funds to private community organizations, with no strings attached.  

We agree with Schmidt.  This budget, like last year’s and the year before that, is unworthy of the taxpayers who pay for City government and deserve better.  

Which is why we hope the Mayor will veto the whole damned thing – because simply cutting some line item expenses here and some there won’t address structural defects like Hock’s inflated revenue estimates.  But anything that displays some sense of fiscal reality and restraint, even line item vetoes, will be a welcome change from the irresponsible tax and spend mentality of the aldermen who outnumber him around The Horseshoe.  

To get a real sense of the intellectual deficiencies on display last Saturday prior to the passage of this “hopelessly flawed” budget, we strongly encourage you to watch the meeting video posted both on the City’s website and on Park Ridge Underground.

Meanwhile, we’ll give you a taste from both the video and from quotes in yesterday’s on-line Park Ridge Herald-Advocate article (“Park Ridge mayor promises veto of ‘hopelessly flawed’ budget,” April 20)…with our comments, of course (in bracketed bold): 

“When you are laying off people and seriously affecting their lives and then turning around and giving money to community groups that will survive without donations, I think that is not right,” [1st Ward Ald. Joe] Sweeney said. [Not only is it “not right,” it’s irresponsible public policy and only encourages those organizations to remain dependent on handouts from  various governmental bodies rather than on voluntary contributions from donors who may actually believe in those organizations, their missions, and their management. Or does that explain the need for all the government handouts?] 

Fifth Ward Ald. Robert Ryan: “I want [the City Manager] to look for how you can outsource public works, even fire [protection].” [So you can throw $165,000 of our tax money at a no-win fight against O’Hare, or $186,000 at various private community organizations that don’t have to account to the City or the taxpayers for how they spend that money, or even on whether they spend it for the benefit of Park Ridge residents?] 

“[This budget] is both fiscally and socially irresponsible,” 2nd Ward Ald. Don Bach said. [How is it “socially irresponsible”? What “social” activities are the taxpayers supposed to fund through our City taxes?] 

“It’s not perfect, but it’s the best we can do,” said 4th Ward Ald. Jim Allegretti. [That pretty much identifies the main problem with this City Council.] 

“I hate a lot of pieces of this budget. I hope the mayor will look to his ability to exercise veto in certain areas,” said 7th Ward Ald. Frank Wsol. [So why did you wimp out and vote for it?]

And the last word, coming from Allegretti while arguing to close debate and approve the budget: “If we can’t come to an agreement on what [the budget] means, shame on us.” [Exactly!]

12 comments so far

Funny how the two biggest things you mention are virtually impossible to veto in a “line item” way. If he wants to veto all money to community groups that is fairly straight forward. If he wants to veto the 165K to O’hare commission, again that is straight forward. But tell me how you veto the fact that you think Hock’s numbers are wrong with out vetoing the entire budget?? You cannot do it. How about vetoing the fact that you think the 936K is not addressed?? Again you have to wack the entire budget (no???). So what it comes down to is if he takes “the low lying fruit” then makes he a certain group of in town happy, but he does not solve the problem. I mean if the possible concerns around the 936K and Hock’s numbers
turn out to be true, the 325K from the other things don’t come close (nice savings but we are still screwed).

But of course the Mayor can sleep well knowing that even if he does the line item deal some of his supporters will view it as “welcome change”.

2:17 – I guess that’s the “hopeless” part of “hopelessly flawed.”

I forgot one more thing. How do you reconcile the fact that the Mayor himself refered to the document as “hopelessly flawed” with the idea of line item vetos? I cannot. If Schmidt does decide to just line item the community group (s) for example, that is the action of someone who thinks that the document is acceptable with a few changes, not hopelessly flawed.

anon on 04.21.10 2:40 pm:

A “hopelessly flawed” budget can still be “reconciled” either by vetoing the whole thing, as we suggested, or by vetoing enough line items to make up for whatever imbalance the Mayor believes exists due to Hock’s inflated revenue projections.

According to the article in today’s Journal, Schmidt says he considers the budget “anywhere from $400,000 to $1.3 million in deficit,” so that’s what he would have to cut via line item vetoes.

On the other hand, saving $351,000 by vetoing O’Hare and community group funding – while not making up for the inflated revenue – more than covers the $283,768 needed to save the jobs of the four police officers who are scheduled for layoff May 1.

Choices, choices….

Now I am really confused. He says that it fails to address the 936K. If that is the case, how the hell can it be 400K on the low side? Hmmmmm, let’s see. 1.3 million – 400K = 900K whic is very close to 936K. The 400 number he gave is just over what the O’hare and community groups are combined.

Ahhhhhhh!!!!! The light bulb just went off!!! Here is what he is going to do (I predict!!!!!!!). He is going to come up
with how he has to cancel the money to the community groups and O’hare because of he does not believe Hock’s numbers and he must protect the city…yada…yada…he feels he has no control over the state funds etc. I did not see the article. How does he come up with these numbers? What does he think Hock missed?

Hock missed the boat on Budgeting 101

After watching the meeting on YT, I feel bad for the City Manager….His finance director quit, his #2 (Asst. Manager) who probably was assisting with the budget has been let go in the blink of an eye after ten years of service to the City, and he’s been dealing with a sexual harrassment complaint against a perv fire chief…and Schmidt was laying into him at the budget meeting.

You would think Schmidt would make an effort to work with the CM more and get on the “same page” and work to build consensus. Right now, the Council is all over the place and they probably couldn’t get a majority to pick out the font for the budget let alone some of these bigger picture issues.

752, you are crazy. How do you work with a city manager who deliberately fudges the numbers? Schmidt absolutely did the right thing in laying into him. Build consensus? Yikes. You at least need lemons to make lemonades. Most of these guys are no more than rotten pieces of fruit which need to be thrown out.

7:52 PM yesterday:

After watching that train wreck in person the only people I feel sorry for are the Park Ridge taxpayers who will keep on paying more and keep on getting less because the city manager is a boob and the city council can’t say no. We’ll soon see whether the mayor can say no, or whether he’s part of the problem.

Hock is a self-interested bureucrat, just like his predecessor was a self-interested bureaucrat. They know how to game the system, and how to game simple-minded politicians.

That we’re paying Hock around $200,000 for the half-baked job he does is ridiculous. He couldn’t get this kind of job in the private sector, and if by some chance he got it he would have been fired the moment he sent in a budget that was supposed to be balanced but was $227,000 in deficit.

But so long as we keep on hiring bureaucrats rather than business people, we’ll keep on getting bureaucratic b.s.

Again I ask, what does Schmidt think is wrong with Hock’s numbers??? Many of you accuse him of fudging the numbers. I am not saying you are wrong, but explain to me exactly what he has fudged.

10:56

Try reading the local fishwraps. The stories in both newspapers this week say Schmidt objected to Hock’s projections on sales tax revenues (which fell short this year already) and his failure to come up with specific cuts to compensate for Gov. Quinn’s proposed cut in state tax sharing, which would cost Park Ridge $930,000.

He also thinks spending on the O’Hare fight and the community groups is not the best use of limited resources. That was in both stories, too.

So what really don’t you understand, or are you just trying to be a jerk?

get the Taste of PR to pay what they owe the City for services. What was AGREED TO, not the smokescreen they are pulling. In a tough economy when we are laying off people. WHY are we still going to pay for this excess when they are supposedly turning a profit?!



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