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1-15). One may note that this amount is offset by a reduction in Federal Aid of $-2,596,200, a 29.4% drop (p. 1-15_. Educational expenses and operating the cities' public schools is by far the costliest budgetary item. This is followed by provision of police and fire services.
Costliest Line Item per Department
Office of Elections
Employee Compensation Increases
Parks, Recreation, and Cultural
Public Health and Assistance
Source: All data was obtained from the Expenditure Summary of the appropriate department section of the budget report.
The biggest expense in every department listed in the report was personnel and/or personnel related expenditures. Personnel services are the largest portion of the city budget and represent the area that can be trimmed in order to return the city to a healthy fiscal position. In term of the entire budget, personnel costs were $279,763,871 (p. 1-17). This represents a dollar change of 14,677,100 and a percentage change of 5.5% (p. 1-17).
Public Services Costs
Police, Fire, and 911 services fall under the judicial department. Total budgetary expenditures for the judicial department were $35,378,200. Corrections operations represent the biggest line item on the budget. Personnel represents the biggest line item in both the law enforcement branch and the public assistance branch of the government. Approved public assistance costs for FY 2008 were $21,195,994 (p. 1-17). This amount did not change from the previous year.
In Part I of the project the budget of the City of Norfolk was analyzed. The biggest expenditure in any of the departments was personnel services. The city needs staff to provide the services that the people expect. The city must provide the expected services for its citizens and personnel are necessary for those services. A majority of the revenue stems from taxes in one form or another. Education of the youth was by far the biggest consumer of property taxes. Budget amounts are shrinking, as homes are foreclosed and unemployment continues to rise.
As director of the Neighborhood and Preservation Department, I have been asked to prepare a budget that reflects a 20% decrease over last year's figures. These cuts have been mandated by the City Manager as a result of reduced tax revenue expectations, reductions in Federal funding, and pressure to reduce taxes. All of these items place a strain on the budget and all departments must make the necessary cuts in order to continue to operate as they have in the past. The following represents my analysis of the situation and recommendations for the required budgetary cuts.
Overview of the Department Budget
The Neighborhood and Preservation Department falls under two different departments. Neighborhoods are under the Non-Departmental Appropriations section of the budget. Funds for these services are used fro blight removal and community revitalization projects. Approximately $150,000 are appropriated annually for this purpose (p. 4-104). Norfolk has a beautiful historic district that creates a community asset. Norfolk has five distinct historic districts, many of which contain homes that are on the local, state, and National historic registries. These districts add character to the city and add to property values around the area.
Those that choose to live or own property in historic districts must abide by certain preservation rules and regulations. The city sees the historic districts as a valuable asset that promotes tourism and provides an asset for the community and the city. Those that choose to renovate property in these districts is eligible to receive tax credits for their efforts from the federal and state governments. These incentives cost the City of Norfolk nothing, but the city is able to reap the benefits of such programs.
Neighborhoods and Preservation fall under two different departments, budgeting can be tricky. I currently manage both programs and must find a way to cut from both areas of the budget. Preservation of City assets is often considered to be a nice extra and is treated as a non-essential item when it comes time to make budgetary cuts. However, as the week progresses, one will realize the vital role that neighborhoods and preservation play in the economic growth of the city.
First, I would like to suggest that neighborhoods and preservation are essential functions that lead to economic growth for all of the citizens of the community. Historic communities and nice neighborhoods attract business and growth opportunities. They provide an excellent resource to exploit for promoting tourism. Their status as an important community asset supports the argument that my department should not have to make cuts at all and that these cuts should be absorbed by other non-essential departments.
No one will argue that certain branches of the city government are essential and considered basic to the citizens of the community. No one will argue that the legislative, executive, law, and judicial departments are not essential to the functioning of the city. However, there are some areas of the city government that could use thinning of non-essential personnel and programs that have become obsolete. The Parks, Recreation, and Culture department represents one area that could be dramatically cut. Parks, recreation, and culture add richness to their communities, but they do not provide the increases in tax revenue that having good communities will provide. Parks and Recreation are responsible for protecting the City of Norfolk's green spaces, including cemeteries. Personnel, planning and administration represent the biggest portions of the budget in this department. I feel that the budget cuts can be shifted to non-essential departments, such as Parks, Recreation and Culture.
The budgetary funds may also come from the reserve fund that is set aside for economic hardship and adjustments to the market. My reasons for this suggestion is that these problems are a result of economic hardships that are a result of the overall economy. Although my department has no problem complying with these budgetary requests, as necessary, but there are more appropriate places for he cuts to be made.
If the cuts must be made in my department, personnel represents the highest expenditures in any department and therefore represents the biggest opportunity for reductions in the budget. In 2008, employee compensation and benefits represented the biggest non-departmental appropriations and the biggest expenditures across the board. The first, and most difficult, decision that must be made is to select positions and staff that needs to be reduced. In some cases, jobs will have to be combined, placing greater strain on existing staff. However, these reductions are necessary in order for the health of the department to be able to meet the mandated goals in cost reduction. The City Planning and Development department is considered to be more essential to the operation of the city. They are already understaffed. Therefore, it is recommended that any reductions in staff stem from a non-essential department, such as Parks, Recreation, and Culture.
Personnel for Parks, Recreation, and Cultural events cost the department $12,138,487.
This means that in order to meet the mandated reduction in pay, $2,427,697 in staff expenses will have to be shaved from the budget. In order to meet the required 20% reduction in budget, the following positions are recommended for reduction, with the following amounts. Many staff positions in this department are considered redundant and could easily be combined in many cases. These figures will take a conservative estimate and assume that all employees are making the minimum salary for the position.
Forestry Crew Leader
Groundskeeper Crew Leader
Recreation Supervisor II
The reasons for these reductions are primarily to reduce redundancy in staff positions. For instance, within the department are three administrative assistant/secretary positions. In an analysis of the job that they performed, it was determined that only two were actually needed, therefore, the Administrative technician position was eliminated.
It could not be determined what the Forestry Supervisor did, when there was already a City Forester and a Forestry Crew Leader. It seems unnecessary to have a crew leader to supervise a staff of one. Even if the employee needs to take additional training to take over the position, this is still better in the long run. The same could be said for the groundskeeper and the groundskeeper crew leader. If one only has a single employee, it is difficult to justify the need to a supervisor; therefore the groundskeeper crew leader will be eliminated.
The division head position and the Director of Parks, Recreation and Open Spaces were found to be so similar that they often overlapped in their job responsibilities. Similarly, the business manager and the bureau manager positions were not clearly defined. Many times these two positions overlapped and created conflicts within the department. It is also not believed that there is a need for two tiers of recreation supervisors.…[continue]
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