Thursday, September 24, 2009

Parks Budget Cut, Layoffs Assured -- Part 4 of Series

The Parks budget, as mentioned earlier in this series, was cut - including a 10% cut in personal services. Since Mayor Greg Ballard has been in office, he has cut the personal services (salary and benefits) portion of the Parks budget by 21%. He has dropped the contribution from the general fund by $800,000 a year, leaving the Parks budget particularly sensitive to the property tax caps.

Initially, $1.4 million was decreased in the personal services proposed budget for 2010, compared to 2009. At the Parks committee review of the budget - with the standing room only crowd of employees whose livelihoods were on the bubble - the committee amended the budget to move $653,922 from the section that includes contracts over to personal services. The Parks employees will be allowed to bid on the contract, and if they win, then $653,922 of people-salaries will be able to keep their job with Indy Parks --- still, over $700,000 people-salaries will lose their jobs. If the Parks employees fail to win the contract, then a full $1,400,000 people-salaries will lose their jobs.

I mentioned at the beginning of this series that when you attend in person you sometimes catch chitchat in the hallways. That night was one time when that was true. The Parks budget had been amended, the workers had left the room, and a second Council Committee was taking its seats. I had not managed to get a copy of the amendment, so I headed for the Council office to get one. I crossed the path of Mike Huber, Director of Enterprise Development, talking with a man I believe is a union representative, but definitely a Parks employee. I was not deliberately eavesdropping, just passing by in tight quarters in a public building. What I heard was Mr. Huber saying "The Mayor really wants you to win that contract." It struck me as similar to somebody saying "We just set your house on fire, but we really want it to rain."

At the full Council meeting, At-Large Councillor Joanne Sanders proposed an amendment that would have removed $290,000 from the Council budget (slated for redistricting costs - more on that later) and transferred it to the Parks budget to at least reduce the number of employees who will find themselves in the unemployment line. That amendment failed when 13 Councillors voted for the amendment and 14 against. Those voting in favor were Plowman (R) and 12 Democrats, Bateman, Brown, Evans, Gray, Lewis, Brian Mahern, Dane Mahern, Mansfield, Moriarty-Adams, Nytes, Oliver, and Sanders. Those voting against were Coleman (L) and Republicans Cain, Cardwell, Cockrum, Day, Hunter, Lutz, Malone, McHenry, McQuillen, Pfisterer, Scales, Speedy, and Vaughn.

The 2010 Parks budget of $27,179,691, or 2.2% of the entire City-County budget of $1,222,638,083, passed by a vote of 16 to 11. Those voting for the budget were Democrats Moriarty-Adams and Nytes along with all the Republicans and those voting against the budget were Coleman (L) and the rest of the Democrats. (Councillors Minton-McNeill (D) and Smith (R)were absent all evening so cast no votes.)

1 comment:

Citizen Kane said...

Parks budgets are always the first to get slashed, despite the fact that typically Parks departments include the lowest wage workers (rank and file and low-management). While I don't necessarily agree with all of Parks historic programming activities and construction projects (too much social welfare, which I believe is well beyond their mission), they tend to get hammered financially. Sometimes they get the double-whammy of low budgets with increased responsibilities (at least that has been the case in other cities).