Citizen budget scrutineer John Marshall Lee was among the speakers at the public hearing for the proposed school board and library budgets. From Lee:
Budget and Appropriation members and other Council members in attendance I speak to you to ask for full support of the Board of Education and Library budget presentations. As you heard last Wednesday when the leadership of those groups spoke to you, the values of the people lie in the direction of education and library services that have failed to receive the same type of support you provide to Police and Legal historically.
There is no magic revenue source. But you can find the funds in your current budget if you will dig and dialog–not just politely listen. You must respond and question that which you do not understand with respect. An example of digging for dollars is the City Print Shop budget:
— The City has a Print Shop to produce printing services for City and Board of Education needs … but taxpayer dollars are spent for outside printing. WHY.
— The Print Shop has indicated no revenue for many years in its annual budget request. City Finance Director now admits thousands of revenue???
— One or more persons indicate that though not employed by the City, printing services are produced for them by the Print Shop, at no or low cost to them or their community organization. Where does any revenue raised in this way flow? Who benefits?
— A review of budget expenses for operational and service items indicates that City purchase orders exceed these two budget lines in City records and budgets, considered both balanced and complete, actually show an unfavorable variance of $830,000 subsidized annually from FY 2011-FY 2015 by taxpayers.
— No revenue? Or hidden funds? Underreported expenses? Unbalanced budgets reported as balanced? How does this escape the City Finance Officer and external auditor?
— Does authorization to spend taxpayer dollars on the Mission of Print Shop, serving only City Departments, exist anywhere?
— The budget you are reviewing for Print Shop employee salaries and benefits shows an increase of $105,000 for FY 2018? WHY? Department out of control?
— Why do some City Departments ignore the Print Shop and purchase from local shops for their work if City Printer offers great value?
— Assets, including machinery and equipment purchases are recorded at what value today? Were they bonded or acquired otherwise?
— Has a comprehensive review of this shop been conducted to ascertain whether alternative outsourcing would reduce City expense by hundreds of thousands of dollars? SHOULD THIS DEPARTMENT BE PRIVATIZED AND SAVE THE CITY $300,000 Annually?
— What about your Legislative Department budget where you can find about $150,000 of planned spending that has not been used in recent years?
Why not dig into City budgets to find the $3-4 Million necessary?