Saturday, December 20, 2008

Finance Committee minutes and other thoughts

Notice how you can actually understand what they did in their meeting. Amazing what you can do when you are not paying people hundreds of thousands to write minutes to keep the information about what you are doing secret.

If you calculate how much the city council stenographer gets paid on an hourly basis, it is about $600 an hour. This to record the meeting and NOT produce written minutes???!!!

No wonder the City Council has $50,000 or so left over to investigate Chuck Turner. Wouldn't that money be better spent on a Scholarship for a needy Boston Public School Student? We could name it the Maureen Feeney President of the City Council Scholarship. If they cancel that $50,000 contract to investigate Chuck, and create a scholarship for BPS graduate to go to college, I'll put in another $1000 of my money for book expenses.

On a positive note, the City did a great job of cleaning the streets. We were at work at 8 am this morning on a couple jobsites and the roads were clear. Of course, the guys I hired to shovel didn't show so I got some exercise shoveling out apartment buildings.

Anyway, here are the Financial Committee minutes. Note what they say about the school committee contracts. Absolutely they should be reviewed. We have added 1400 city employees in the last 5 years, but the Financial Committee still only has 3 members to oversee what the Mayor and the Council are doing??? Their budget should be a line item percentage of overall budget. But why would the Mayor want finance professional looking over the contracts he signs and hands out. That would make too much sense.

The Commission met at its office at 5:30pm on November 11, 2008. The members were brought up to date on the inquiry into the City of Boston Cemetery Division. The individual was caught stealing fuel from Mt. Hope Cemetery resigned his position with the City. The rest of the inquiry is ongoing. The staff has been working with Parks Commissioner Antonia Pollak and the City's Office of Labor Relations. The staff has turned over its information of the fuel matter to City officials. In addition to a video taken in the evening of the fuel theft, the staff reviewed all of the fuel records and found records that identified that fuel had been stolen dating back to at least April, 2008. The staff also interviewed all of the employees at Mt. Hope. Due to the incomplete status of the inquiry the Commission deferred further discussion to later in the meeting.

The staff has continued to monitor the installation of the new parking meters which remains a significant problem. The vendor who won the bid for the new meter mechanisms has begun to deliver them with over 3,000 received to date. However, none of them has yet to be installed and there is no plan in place to provide for the installation. The financial impact is significant as meter revenue and the revenue from ticket issuance is down year to date. The City had planned for increased revenues due to buying all new meters. The City is well into the 2009 fiscal year and the trend becomes increasingly difficult to reveres. It is clear at this point that the revenue projects made by the City will not be reached. The Commission instructed the staff to continue to monitor the process.

There have been several memorandums sent to City departments concerning reducing expenses for the duration of the fiscal year in many areas, including external contracts. Reducing and or eliminating contract expenses is the quickest way to reduce expenses. First, vendors have no recourse and secondly, unlike employee reductions, there are no residual costs. The staff has been reviewing all unadvertised awards with the goal of making recommended cuts or reductions, particularly with School Department contracts which account for millions of dollars in costs.

There being several pending matters of inquiry along with the need to continue discussion of the Cemetery inquiry, the Commission voted to go into Executive Session to discuss those matters and will not return to open session.
A true copy.
Jeffrey W. Conley
Executive Director.

Anyway, here are the

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