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Wednesday, November 25, 2009

City of Aurora 2010 Proposed Budget | 15% Spending Cuts, Ward Slush Funds Slashed

There's good and bad news for many regarding Mayor Tom Weisner's proposed 2010 City of Aurora Budget.

Bad news...if you support wild government spending that keeps growing and growing, there will be about 15% overall less and most of the ward slush funds have been eliminated.

Good news...if you are one of the taxpayers of the City of Aurora who wants to see government spend less, this budget is the first major step in that direction.

>SELECTED HIGHLIGHTS:

* Overall budget is $350 million ($349,590,743)
* Spending cuts are approximately 15.4% or $31 million
* Overall estimated revenue is $332 million
* General fund budget is $142.8 million (4.9% reduction)
* Departments (except police/fire) must trim 15% expenses
* Projects such as RiverEdge Park and GAR restoration on hold
* Cuts in festivals, special events, public art commission
* Ward slush funds reduced from $580,000 to $40,000 each
* Labor costs account for 80% of expenditures
* City staff reduced 6.3%

>WARD FUNDS

Ward funds (aka "slush funds"), which come from the declining gaming tax, were supposed to be for neighborhood improvements such as streets, but in recent years, they increasingly became open-ended checkbooks for certain alderman to donate here, there and everywhere.

4th Ward Alderman Rick Lawrence had proposed limiting the ward funds to $20,000 each and focusing the rest of the funds on streets and infrastructure. While the Finance Committee kept the matter in limbo, Mayor Weisner took the step to implement Lawrence's suggestion.

Funds will now be limited to $40,000 per ward. A minimum of 50% or $20,000 must be used for infrastructure such as street lights and sidewalks. The remaining $20,000 will be discretionary, but each alderman will be held accountable for the first time for how they spend those funds.

We say each alderman should demonstrate they are serious about fiscal responsibility and pledge 100% toward capital and infrastructure. Checkbook spending for parties and groups must end in 2010.

>SELECTED EXPENDITURES

* Demolition of current Aurora Police Station - $1.2 million
* Arterial road resurfacing (15 lane miles) - $2 million
* Indian Trail expansion (Mitchell to Farnsworth) - $1.5 million
* Wood Street Bridge - $790,000
* Neighborhood street improvements (25 lane miles) - $5.4 million
* Right-of-way improvements - $900,000
* Eola Road (Montgomery to 87th St) planning - $900,000
* Density reduction - $500,000
* Indian Trail water storage tank - $920,000
* Law department cost increase from $760,952 to $955,340

>REVENUE PROJECTIONS

Projected revenue is $332 million, which is a $12.6 million or 3.7% decrease. That assumes revenue doesn't continue to decline further than estimated.

* Sales tax share from state estimated $17.0 million (from $17.4m)
* Home-rules sales tax (1.25%) estimated at $15.7 million (2.3% decrease)
* State income tax distribution estimated at $12.5 million (from $15.4m)
* Gaming taxes are expected to drop again to $11.5 million (3% decrease)

>PROPERTY TAXES

* 2010 revenue estimated at $82 million
* $1.56 per $100 of EAV general
* $0.10 per $100 of EAV police station debt
* $0.25 per $100 of EAV library fund
* $1.91 per $100 of EAV total

The full 2010 proposed budget spans over 1,500 pages, which you can download (warning: large size PDF file).

>BIG QUESTION

What else would you like to see reduced from the 2010 budget by the Aurora City Council?

33 comments:

Anonymous said...

Why weren't Police and Fire asked to trim thier budgets? Surely there is some waste there!

Anonymous said...

I would like to see all funding for mortgage assistance, first time home buyer, the counseling services given for mortgages, all the money given to social service agencies for counseling about the economy, all money given Hesed House, all money given to the various agencies that practice voodoo sociology cut, as in eliminated. I would like to see donwtown alive eliminated unless it can be made revenue neutral. Get rid of the art commission.

Anonymous said...

Eliminate Mayor's Office of Special Events, Public Arts Commission Youth Activities, all spokespersons, four mayoral assistants, Alayne Weingartz, Rosario DeLeon, Bill Wiet and Alex Alexandrou.

Anonymous said...

Without that half million how ever will the aldermen ever be able to buy the votes that keep them in office? Gee guys that seems awfully unfair.

Anonymous said...

How about the fire department eliminate those gas hogging SUVs they all seem to think are so important? How about ELIMINATING the assistant chiefs, the shift chiefs, the go to the grocery chiefs the inspection assistant chiefs etc etc. ad nausium.Also make them all fund their own retirements no more millionaire retirement deals. Also pay at least half of their own healthcare. These ideas could save millions.

Anonymous said...

Hire someone competent to replace Sherm Jenkins! He has been blowing deals and costing us jobs for 10 years!

Anonymous said...

Fire Mark Anderson!!!


Westside Warrior

Anonymous said...

Fire John Dobran who couldn't find anything even if he wanred to. Why the hell are their 29 people in upper management at AFD? I think that qualifies as scamming the taxpayers of Aurora. How much overbudget is the new Police Dept. station Could we get a detailed record of how much overtime is handed out at APD ? WE need to cut AFD/APD pensions by two-thirds. Could we get Chuck Goudie or Pam Zekman to investiagate the 2 million dollar giveaway scam to some bar owner.

Anonymous said...

Auroa Police Dept. and Aurora Fire Dept. aren't expected to participate in budget cutting because they are SO MUCH BETTER than the rest of us. They're just so darn SPECIAL.

Anonymous said...

I don't live in Aurora anymore, but when I did, the crime was very bad. There were upwards of 400+ shootings a year and close to 30 homicides. It seems now however, there are much, much fewer shootings with only a few homicides annually. While zero shootings/homicides are the wish for every city, one can't argue that this is quite an improvement. It would seem to me that the quality of life in Aurora has increased dramatically. And if one doesn't want to attribute this to the police, fine. But then those same people shouldn't point the finger of blame at the police when crime is high.

With that being said, if possible, why would you start removing officers from the very streets they were placed upon to reduce the rampant crime?(which appears to be working) I personally would like to keep them on the streets to continue to protect the citizenry.

I don't know exactly how their salaries are structured, but from this blog one would think that they are paid waaayyy over any other comparable department and or industry standard. I find it hard to believe this the case, as most police contracts are very similar from what I am told. If a city and union do not agree on a specific bargaining point, it can go to an independent arbitrator to decide. Therefore, every item in the contract was either agreed upon by the city, or decided by an independent body's binding decision. I think this is true for any union negotiation. So why are the police the bad guys in Aurora? What exactly did the officers do wrong? Why do some think the PD are the root of all evil?

Now don't get me wrong, I certainly do not believe the APD officers are underpaid. To the contrary, the ones I have spoken to all feel they are fairly compensated.

As for the pensions, I wonder how many retired officers are collecting on the pension? Surely some of these officers who retired years and years ago are collecting very little. There are about 300something officers paying into it I believe. How much total is being paid out as oppossed to being put in? I understand life expectancies are going up, and more than likely officers at some point will have to contribute more into their pensions to make it sustainable. If they are willing to do it, then why fault them for having these benefits? Just because we don't have that option shouldn't be a good reason to wish others do not. I would like a pension option if given the opportunity, wouldn't you?

As I am sure you can see, I am no pension specialist, so I'm sure others can shine an educated beam on this. I would assume only someone directly involved in their pension would be able to answer this, as anyone else would be speculating.

Oh, and as for getting rid of firemen, I don't think that is a good idea either. I wouldn't want a station being closed down that is close to my house. I would certainly feel less secure in addition to seeing my insurance increase. Also, I'm sure the city's bond rating would change, which would lead to higher interest rates on future bonds, which would cost the city more money.

It seems to me the fact of the matter is that police and fire are not special, but simply essential. Just because we in the private industry are more susseptable to wage cuts and possible unemployment, why hate on these professionals that happen to enjoy a bit more job security by the very nature of their work? When times are bad, police and fire look like good secure jobs, but when the economy was going gangbusters, I would take my job any day of the week.

Just my observations and opinions, I'd love to hear others'.

Anonymous said...

Wrong information on the ward funding on this blog.

Funds were not designated for streets and curbs. They were discretionary, to be used as the communities decided through the ward committees.

Some aldermen took it upon themselves to become units of public works.

The maintenance of our streets should be done by the city and not the wards. It has been a hodge-podge for years.

My guess is that now nobody will be doing it.

Anonymous said...

The quality of life in Aurora has declined. Shooting are one thing, homicides another, just because the FBI has removed teh most violent gang members and the other gangs have caused a truce does nto mean the quality of life has gone up. Look up the Jericho circle thread to see the list of areas in substantial decline or decline, it is alarming.

And the current retirement system is ridiculous. By the way APD union team bragged about how high a compensation level the APD had compared to other cities a few years back.

There should always able a correlation between the public and public servants in terms of salary and benefits.

Here are real numbers for you from the bureau of labor statistics:

The public sector earns 13.38 an hour in benefits verses the private sector 7.98 an hour.

In terms of compensation public sector earns 39.25 an hour verses the private sector 27.35 that is 11.90 an hour.

Here is the cost for pension for a male retiring at 55 years of age (as many public servants do):

a 25k a year pension: $570,074.50
a 50k a year pension: $1,140.148.30
a 100k a year pension: 2,280,296.30

remember the police pay in a % but the pension is based on the last years of earnings.

And of course this does not cover the health benefits.

Anonymous said...

Excellent review of the budget.

I will give credit to Weisner for cutting the ward slush funds as Lawrence proposed long ago, but I think he has much more he can cut, including $33,000 in his own mayoral office for "donations."

Other cuts should include:

Historic preservation
Weiner's staff (6 people?)
Public information (6 people?)
Law department costs
Police/Fire management positions

Anonymous said...

Some alderman, like Kifowit, Garza, Hart-Burns, Mervine, dish out money from slush funds as donations and self-promo. Their should be STRICT oversight over how any discretionary funds are spent.

Anonymous said...

To close the $17-19 million deficit, some of the people I would fire immediately if I were Tom Weisner and save taxpayers much more than employee salaries given the blunders they create:

Alayne Weingartz
Rosario DeLeon
Sherman Jenkins
Bill Wiet
Barb Katterman

Anonymous said...

I liked Ald. Peters idea last night at city council meeting about eliminating the 2 ald-at-large. The city council should be reduced to 6 people.

Anonymous said...

Alayne "Foreclosure" Weingartz helped fire the legal staff in her coup, so why is her department now costing taxpayers a million bucks?

Anonymous said...

Those 29 upper-management jobs at the Aurora Fire Department should be saved......they're the only thing preventing Aurora from burning to the ground.

Anonymous said...

I'd like to know where District 131 came up with all the extra money to pay THREE adult professional musicians to play in the pit for the EHS musical. And this would be in addition to the exorbitant $6,500.00 paid to the EHS band director just for directing the pit!

Unless, of course, these adults graciously volunteered their services (as used to be the case a few years back)--but then certain administrators could claim that they were denying a student the opportunity to play. Silly me, I forgot--the rules and expectations were changed by administrators 5 years ago!

Money may be tight, but this district's administration will always be able to justify spending to save their image and cover up past disastrous decisions.

Anonymous said...

If those 29 upper management positions are the only thing keeping Aurora from burning to the ground as stated above then lets just fire the rest of the dept and really save a bundle.

Anonymous said...

SAve the whales!

Anonymous said...

Well now that the global warming hoax has been exposed are all you good citizens of Aurora going to tell your children of the hoax. Are you going to demand that the schools stop immediately teaching this farce to your children? Are you going to demand ALGORES imprisonment for fraud? Are you going to bombard the RED HOUSE with E mails to keep OBAMA from going to the Global Warming confrence next week or are you just going to sit idely by and let him continue to perpatrate this lie and fraud on the citizens of this country? Are you going to bombard Harry Ried and Nancy Palooza with the same to stop this cap and trade nonsense? A good place to start would be the local school boards and demand that they immediately stop all global warming teaching and especially the ALGORE BS. And while they are at it teach the kids how to research this fraud for themselves. It is a fraud and the people who perpatrated it admit it so don't accuse me of not knowing of what I speak.

Anonymous said...

Even our esteemed mayor got hooked on this global warming and green BS when he bought those nifty dual fuel cars...guess he should have done more research too.

Anonymous said...

Time to dump these money eating ethenol vehicles.

Anonymous said...

Worse the stupid earth day the council fell in with. That vote was a monument to every single member of the coucil's ignorance. It was shameful.

Anonymous said...

That's right, let's return back to the days when the City was in control of the street repair. Back in Pierce's day. If you were on the crap list for Pierce, your streets didn't get done. At least all wards get street repair now. There are some flaws with the current system, but reverting to the old, political system is not the answer. Lawrence is wrong on this point.

Anonymous said...

12:25 - agreed. the simpler solution is simply to allocate the wards funds with either approval the spending by the rest of the council or by stipulating what they must be spent on; simply end the discretionary spending.

It really is a shame that now those who pay their taxes will be giving money to those who contribute little to the city.

Anonymous said...

Watch the aldermen to see if they increase the $40,000 per ward put into the ward fund budget by the mayor.

Anonymous said...

Maybe Hart-Burns could use some of our Ward money to stop all the peddlers we have going door to door selling stuff.

Anonymous said...

12:24 - put up a no trespassing sign. You can download one from the city form the alderman pages. The are in English and Spanish.

BTW I am in the 4th and they are a nuisance here as well.

Anonymous said...

Call the police when they come to your door and have the officers check for a City license. If you had a no trespassing or no soliciting sign posted, have them ticketed. Don't just complain but make that call and do something.

Anonymous said...

Hey Openline, your days of slander is over. Check out Kifowit's blog. She has recordings of the actual City Council meetings posted. So you're "sources tells us at the City Council meeting" are all full of hot air.

www.KifowitCorner.blogspot.com

Anonymous said...

It's too bad other Aldermen aren't doing what she does to communicate what's going on. She's not my Alderman, but I get more info from her than I do Ms. Garza.