When it comes to the City Council, those budget interrogators John Marshall Lee and Andy Fardy are like Lieutenant Colombo coming back for more. In their capacity as charter members of Budget Oversight Bridgeport (BOB) General Lee and his gumshoe budget lieutenant Fardy needle council members about city spending practices. The city’s budget book can be an exercise in Etch A Sketch with Lee and Fardy wondering about all the twists and turns. In their question of the week, Lee and Fardy ask council members in an email to explain the difference between defunding and eliminating a city position. They wonder about the legislative services position held by Tom White who some say was whited out of the budget because he asked too many questions. Defunded or eliminated? See the latest Lee and Fardy sent to the city’s legislative body.
That brings me to our Question of the Week. The subject matter goes back to December 2011 when the Ordinance Committee discussed the unaffiliated City positions and the salary ranges presented by the administration. Tom Sherwood, responding to a question, explained the difference between ‘defunding a position’ and ‘eliminating a position’ but that explanation was not contained in the Committee minutes. Can someone define each of these activities and explain the differences, if any, assuming that it is not otherwise obvious??
Finally, if we connect these concepts to the action last Monday night in passing the 2013 budget, would the “legislative intent is to unfund the value for all staff in the Legislative Department” be a ‘defunding’ or ‘eliminating a position.’ Is there any difference in effect to shutting down a “ghost position” like the position ‘admin assistant’ showing as Vacant in the Legislative Department budget since 2009 or closing down a live position, like Legislative Director, that is currently filled?
We know that language is important, especially to lawyers, and City Council members get commentary or advice frequently on matters that pass before them that require a decision, in the form of a Council vote. These questions are raised to understand the fiscal affect if any as “ghost positions” or live positions disappear off the City budget system, so that we can follow the process the City makes on cutting and becoming more efficient. Look forward to hearing from someone on Ordinance or B&A about this subject as soon as possible.
Please let us know if either the subject or intent of these questions is unclear. Have a great Mother’s Day weekend. B.O.B. (John Marshall Lee and Andy Fardy)