APPROVED FY15 BUDGET SPELLS DISASTER … COST OF POLITICIANS’ RAPE OF CITY FROM 1986 to FY15 = $213M THE PLANET, THOUGH, HAS A PLAN
By DAN VALENTI
PLANET VALENTI News and Commentary
(FORTRESS OF SOLITUDE, WEDNESDAY, JULY 16, 2014) — While our Right Honorable Good Friends last night plucked hangnails from the body politic and inserted bamboo shoots under the enamel, you can dismiss outright their significance. Opposition is enfeebled, reducing what little independence we see to tokenism, and the mayor’s stooges have enough votes to run up real disaster.
And now that our Right Honorable Good Friends have chosen political expediency over fiscal responsibility by approving The Empty Suit’s excessive, tax-raising, service-depleting budget in a 9-2 vote (Lisa Tully and Kevin Morandi opposed), we can look back and see the future.
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In the short term, the new budget raises taxes mainly to provide pay hikes for the school department and to provide for a portion of the, ahem, “proposed” pay raise that TES and The Gang (department heads, managers, exempt employees) will end up receiving. TES stands to gift himself a boost in pay up to 40% … for what he has turned into a part-time, no-show job.
As for the grunts, the worker bees that do the vast majority of the actual work of the city, well, they can suck on a lemon washed in waste-water sewage. That’s what the mayor thinks of most of the city’s workers. No, we are not mind readers, but we can read the “signs of the time.” The mayor’s words in private to various city underlings, according to sources who have repeatedly told different versions of this same sad story — as well as his actions — tell us as much.
A Seabed of Financial Wreckage
In the long term, the FY15 budget pushes the city’s financial position further along on its inexorable journey to financial bottom, a seabed of wreckage also known as bankruptcy. Sometime between 5 and 10 years from now, historians will likely look back at Bianchi’s FY2015 budget as the “tipping point” that pushed Pittsfield past the point of financial “no return.”
The mayor has bragged about the “prudence” of his budget. He must have misspoke and meant “prunes” based on the elimination of the ensuing waste from the rectum of the body politic — you know, the area where the sun doesn’t shine. The Empty Suit has found his man-cave there, where, in his spare time, he likely grows redolent mushrooms. THE PLANET speaks plainly as well as in code. Let those with eyes and ears see and hear.
This budget will not produce productivity as much as an economic debris field.
There, in a pecan shell, we have The Empty Suit’s pitiful legacy, as the guy who ruined a once-proud city. Unless …
The Big ‘Unless’
… unless the city elects a “savior” in the 2015 municipal election, a decisive, well-rounded person sharp of intelligence, inflexible in political will, resolute in purpose, adequate in financing, and satisfactory in organization. This candidate shall be totally removed from “The Inside” and prepared to step up, lead, and cut costs. Otherwise, the FY15 budget shall be seen in hindsight as the one that “did the city in.”
For that reason, the 2015 election will be the most critical in city history. If another Status Quo candidate gets elected from “the usual suspects,” the city is doomed. Don’t forget: the next winner gets a four-year term. Elect another from The Suits, and you might as well put of that famous Pittsfield sign that Nate Zuckerman screened onto T-Shirts at the old Pipe and Pack on North Street: “Last one to leave Pittsfield turn out the lights.”
If, however, voters elect a reformer who understands that the biggest issue shall be to tame the runaway budget …
… And if, moreover, this person isn’t a loose canon with no funding and no organization looking to provide token opposition or, worse, get his or her 15 minutes of local fame,Pittsfield will have a fighting chance.
Ah, but who is that person? Is he or she out there?
When Outflow Exceeds Input, Budgets, and Cities, Ultimately Collapse
The problem for Pittsfield is this: It is spending more than it takes in. In 29 of the past 31 municipal budgets, the total cost of running the city has been jacked up, in each of those years, by multi-millions of dollars. Those budgets only worked with excessive taxation and heavy borrowing. That can’t happen again with the expectation that the city will survive.
It sounds like science fiction but it’s economic fact: from the FY’86 budget of $46,480,070, the municipal budget has grown by about $100,000,000 — one hundred million dollars. Yet when you compare the city and its lifestyle of 1986 to 2015, you get the difference between a healthy, clean, respectable community and a poverty-wracked, dirty, crime-ridden ghetto. For the privilege of that demise, the poor citizens paid $100 million dollars.
Do you want another astounding fact? A dollar in 1986, adjusted for inflation, is the equivalent of 2014’s $2.13 (calculated at an annual inflation rate of 2.74% for a total inflation of 113.22%, source dollartimes.com).
Thus, over the past generation, the citizens of Pittsfield have actually paid The Suits $213 million to destroy the city by politics!
This says nothing about an accumulated debt in post-employment benefits (health care costs, pensions, and other bennies) to public retirees that today likely tops $400,000,000. In 2011, unfunded debt obligation stood at nearly $335,000,000. Taxpayers pick up every dime of that tab, too.
The city is also greasing the skids to ram through a foolhardy $130 million school construction project, one that is not needed in a district with less than 6,000 students, down from twice that number from years ago. One must also factor in the lack of decent jobs; the drain of young people, who move out at first opportunity; the aging population; the dying off of GE retirees; the shrinking population; the rise in crime; the decrease in the tax base; and the lack of discretionary income.
Three Solutions, Only One of Which Will Work
There are only three ways that this dire situation can be addressed:
- The city increases revenues.
- The city increases borrowing.
- The cut cuts expenses.
Bianchi and his council went, once again, for #1. The council has at least temporarily halted TES’ request for #2.
#1 and #2 are sure losers.
The only strategic (as opposed to tactical) fix for the city is #3. A leader must emerge from this perilous time who will take on the tough task (unpopular with The Suits and Special Interests but being prayed for by We The People) of budget reform. That will mean cuts. Fortunately, there is a way to substantially reduce the budget while at the same time boosting required services.
THE PLANET has a plan.
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“Did you grow up with me, too?” — Voice-over artist June Foray (Rocket J. Squirrel and an infinity of other cartoon voices), subtitle of her autobiography.
“OPEN THE WINDOW, AUNT MILLIE.”
LOVE TO ALL.