Big time Budget Overspend

Has anyone read the 8 Jan. B.I.T.? There is a rather enlightening article in there about a huge budget deficit to the tune of almost a quarter million dollars! How the hell did it get to be that bad you may ask? Well it is a continuing saga from the last three years if you care to go checking. Our Town Manager in her infinite wisdom continues to use the general fund as though it were just a cash register. Somebody should ask her just what fiduciary training she has had. There are thousands of dollars that the town could have been making by short term bonding on the surplus money that was in the general fund. The absolute disaray on the Finance Dept is nothing short of criminal. I'm sure there will be a non-sensical and vitriolic rebuttal of the 01/08/05 article in the paper this coming Friday. Pity the poor reporter who wrote the story, it was only taken Directly from the auditors report! You know, don't shoot the messenger!
So as you read the story and see the number of occassions that the 'Town Hall" has fallen far short of coherent, viable, and well thought out fiscal responsibility, ask yourself if it isn't time for some personnel changes down there! They have no idea where they are going nor how to get there! That's it for this time,


Anonymous said...

Equally disturbing is the Town's use of computer/IT consultants that have overcharged the Town for what little work they've done. In fact, our Town Manager knows that these consultants were finally fired from Middletown after pulling a similar stunt, yet instead of getting rid of them, had them "managing" town employees. For $80,000, there should be no farming out of managing employees and in any case, these consultants should be investigated for defrauding the Town, just like they did Middletown.

Anonymous said...

BI Budget and Taxes
To me, one of the less than wonderful wonders of Block Island economy is that there are municipal shortfalls for a population just short of 1000 for whom the majority of tax dollars come from a population absent 8 months of the year (and who consequently do not then use local services like water, sewage, police, electricity and ESPECIALLY schools).

Yes, those mcMansions are gross and wasteful eyesores and drive up the cost of real estate for John and Jane Doe or their equivalents; but they pay a lot of taxes without using (much of) the BI resources. If the same situation had occurred 50 or 25 years ago, I speculate that BI-landers would have been frugal and wiser managers of that relative wealth.

Though most BI-landers are not earning 6-figure incomes, it feels as though some of the attitudes of the $4-million 2nd home owners have infected us. The scope of the school project seems a case in point. And, to me, admittedly uninformed about the inner sanctum details, to spend a quarter of a million dollars to get rid of an architect who did not perform is tantamount to setting a bonfire with $500 dollar bills provided by the town taxes (and my money). (I don't get paid that for doing my job; I would LOVE to be paid that for NOT doing it.)

Does anyone share any of this with me or am I an ignorant crank?

Anonymous said...

You are not an ignorant crank.

It is unconscionable that the Island has a shortfall, especially after the new food and beverage tax which has given thousands upon thousands straight to the town.

Drive by town hall and look at how full the parking lot is. How many people work there??? It is basically a welfare system.

I also read that one of the reasons for the shortfall was the debt service for land acquisitions. I think preserving land is great...and there is a body set up just for that which recieves a percent of all land sales. It is called the land trust. Currently they have $16,000,000 in reserves! That is sixteen million!

Why on earth are we, the tax payers, purchasing land for preservation while the on-island preservation group has is sixteen million dollars sitting in a bank account. What the heck was the point of the tax? Surely not to have the cash sitting in a bank. Use it before the land prices get even higher!

It basically comes down to the individuals who run the town. See, they don't think of it as your money, they think of it as thier money. It is this crazy sense of entitlement that they have. This was evidenced by Ms. Dodge blantanly lying to the citizens of BI at the spring town financial meeting.

They claied that something in the area of 2 million dollars was required to complete the new school...and that was it...there would be no more requests for cash. Six months later they come back at us and say 2 million more is needed.

If they knew of the scale of the shortfall then they blantly lied to us. If they did not know then they are complete idiots who should not be making any decisions that affect our community.

One way or another I hope the new town council has the stomach to get in there and get its hands dirty in order to fix this dilema.

I think the contention on the council is a good start! It is refreshing to see a divergence of opinion on this counsel as opposed to the past two years where for some reason no one had a their own opinion. It was like the blind leading the blind! Cheers!

Anonymous said...

The school addition went wrong because no one went to the planning sessions. It wasn't until the plans were revealed that the Johnny-come-lately's started the uproar. I was dismayed when I saw the plans, but I blamed myself for not taking an interest when it counted. I had a conversation with one of the people on the planning committee who told me the idea was to change the BI School into a charter school, and draw off-island children and charge tuition. The housing (for staff and students) would come later. Thus, a plan for a Nantucket style transformation.
In hindsight, I wished I had had spoken my mind at that point, but I assumed that this had been researched and maybe was a viable option. In relation to Block Island, I always think of Yankee ingenuity. It doesn't involve atriums and decorative shingle sided gymnasiums. I am glad they fired that architect, he was allowing us to throw more money onto the fire. At least the current plan is a little more in keeping with the practical side of school expansion. It is a school for goodness sake.
I am also amazed that all of these second homebuyers don't bat an eyelash at spending $2M on a house, and the subsequent 3% tax for land trust. But when we ask for an additional $2M from the entire taxpaying population for the school, they scream hardship. Has everone forgotten we have the lowest property tax rate in the State? (I am not suggesting here that we should mis-manage the money.)
As far as the budget overspend, it didn't surprise me it was due to servicing debt for land aquisition. I had to pay the 3% land trust tax. When the town aquired the Hodge property, I figured that 3% of mine and all the other millions collected would pay for it. Why should there be debt service? They have the cash!!!!
I don't take out a loan to buy things if I have enough cash to buy it outright. Why throw money away with interest payments. It doesn't take a financial wizard to fgure that out.

Anonymous said...

This is what happens with governments all-over the world it is just that on Block island it is so transparent.
It is called "empire Building" More town employees, taking over the Town Roads from the State , bigger Town Hall (encroaching on Wetlands), New Bigger police station, new bigger School, maybe we should take over Bipco, State Beach, Coast Guard Station, ..........
These actions don't serve the Tax Payer in a Free Market economy they serve the Empire Builders.
Unfortunately this is what happens with governments and they don't mind going into debt to build their empire because they are not the ones who have to pay it back.
Everyone wants an assistant and a bigger office!
Check out www.mises.com for a solid economic explanation of this kind of Public phenomen.

Not to mention the Town Employees are beholden to their supervisors, and will use their political capital to further enlarge the "empire"
and we will pay.

The land Trust- Divide the 16 million by how many people serve on the board that is how much spending discretion each member has ie (power) they don't want to spend the money because it would decrease their power.
Or maybe they think Real-estate prices are going to to go down?
it is more self-servicing to borrow the money and increase their power even if it is less economical for the entire community.

Anonymous said...

I would never have known about the 16 million hoarded by the land trust if I hadn't been reading your blogspot, Everrett. I hope that this whole blog will continue to shed light on the dark side of Island management and eco-politics. The town's affairs have been totally and horribly bungled for too long...power has been misused and power has certainly corrupted those who are supposed to act in the best interests of the people!!!

Anonymous said...

Yeah why doesn't the Tmes want us to know about the 16 mil they have never said anything about it.
maybe the 16 mil is for the "worker Ferry"