Although as you answer this question the numbers are still up in the air, Greenville's Act 47 team has estimated that the borough will need to cut its spending by hundreds of thousands of dollars to be able to lower its earned income tax rates enough to exit the program for financially distressed communities. Where would you cut? Would you cut from several departments or just one? Be specific about where you would cut, how much, and why.
Paul R. Hamill: Record-Argus Response to Question #1
Actually, according to its own budget available to the public, the Borough Council has already made all the “required” cuts already. “Required” cuts and “recommended” cuts are different, but you may hear some council members refer to both as if they are the same. They are not. And the difference means we can afford proper police staffing while we recover.
By taking “recommended” cuts, we are adding money to a large savings account for the Borough. That looks good on paper for a politician, but it just doesn't work in real life. Drive down a street with pot holes that flatten your tires, or watch a drug deal in Riverside park, and ask yourself whether looking good on paper should be our priority. Just like any family budget, if your basic needs for safety aren't being met, you spend what you must to ensure you are safe, and then put the rest into your savings account. The Borough is padding its savings account while disregarding the serious heroin problem and road maintenance problems that we must spend money on to correct. If our town is not safe, no amount of money in savings can help us recover.
Now let's say we are somehow forced to take additional cuts in addition to the “required” ones. Then I would start with the administration and look at how we can operate our town more efficiently. I would look at our fire department personnel, who are willing and able to cover code enforcement, for one example. What I strongly oppose is cutting resources for our police department or street department, because their work is essential for a good quality of life in our town.
-Paul R. Hamill
As promised, here are my detailed talking points here on my website that wouldn't fit in my 300-words-or-less response to the R-A question above:
• Any and all cuts the Borough Council is making now from public safety is nothing more than trying to add money to their rainy day fund.
• We needed to cut out all of the non-resident EIT that's around $126,000, and they had to reduce the resident EIT from 1.24% to 1.00%, and that's around $81,000, for a total cut of around $207,000.
• Now they added a 3 mill tax hike, with a 3 mill fire tax, so that's around $200,000.
• Then they cut the parking enforcement officer position that was around $15,000 for a total cut of $215,000.
• But those cuts are not counting all the cuts council claims they saved money on.
• So the balance of the $400K is nothing more than rainy day fund.
• Now I understand the need to put money away for the unexpected things but not if that means cutting public safety.
• There are cuts that can be made in the administration building, the code enforcement position that we currently pay around $36,000 plus benefits could be cut because those duties can be turned over to the fire department, which by the way they are more than willing to accept those duties.
• We as a town of only 5 to 6 thousand people need working heads of the departments not office leaders, the only office leader we need is a strong Borough Manager. The money we could save there alone is a ton. We pay $50,ooo for a Public Safety Director, we pay $36,000 to a Code Enforcement Officer, we pay $46,778 for the Public Service Director... That's a total of $132,778... not counting the Borough Manager's wages or the Secretary's, or benefits. Just think how much money could be saved if the duties these people do where giving back to the department heads. This is a area I would look into very deeply.
• I feel it is important to keep people on the ground, IE police firemen, street crew, and so on, because they are the people that keep the everyday things moving forward.
-Paul R. Hamill