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Tuesday, September 11, 2007

What happened to Power of the Purse?

While Mayor Doug Palmer circles the nation and the globe doing work for the U.S. Conference of Mayors, taxpayers back home in Trenton are forced to pay the travel bills as the expenses come directly out of the city coffers.

But residents in Trenton say they can’t remember the last time City Council approved any specific budgetary item approving the expenditure of these travel funds, making the expenses seem like an unlimited gold mine for Mayor Palmer to travel around the country while Trenton continues to experience problems that need the attention of the mayor.

Oklahoma City recently approved their own resolution approving their mayor’s travel expenses for their executive’s trip to lovely Trenton for the U.S. Conference of Mayors conference this week.

Why can’t Mayor Palmer ask the people’s representatives for permission to expend numerous travel funds, especially when the mayor frequently rejects proposals for services the city desperately needs by saying the state hasn’t appropriated enough aid or the city doesn’t have enough taxes?

Despite the sorry state of many of its properties, Trenton boasts some of the highest tax rates in the state, yet the city can’t afford to upgrade many important services like housing inspections, while the city’s housing stock continues to slide into oblivion.

Perhaps a reduction in exorbitant travel expenses, and an end to the creation of redundant and ludicrous positions like Assistant Public Information Officer or Assistant Deputy Municipal Clerk would allow the city to hire more housing inspectors, or fund apprenticeship programs and educational opportunities for the low-income population.

Mayor Palmer should follow Oklahoma City’s example and ask for the funds before he spends money on lengthy business trips to Miami and Italy with the U.S. Conference of Mayors, while Trenton continues to experience violent crime, a shrink in population, and the fleeing of businesses into the suburbs.


F. Resolution approving travel expenses for the Mayor to attend the United States Conference of Mayors Fall Leadership meeting, September 14-15, 2007, in Trenton, New Jersey; the International Downtown Association’s Downtown Achievement Awards event, September 7, 2007, in New York City, New York; and the State Chamber Fly-In, September 17-18, 2007, in Washington, D.C.

(Two-thirds affirmative vote required for approval.)


1 comment:

Old Mill Hill said...

You know, several years back Councilman At Large Paul Pintella attended a conference related to his then job at the now-defunct Urban League of Trenton. Mr. Pintella then tried to claim some of his expenses as relating to his duties as a Councilman and filed for a reimbursement from the City.

This caused a bit of a flap and there was some talk of instituting a more formal policy to clarify and govern such travel expenses.

Guess that policy didn't get any further than the talking stages, did it.