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Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Some budget cut suggestions

The City of Trenton faces a potential $7 million shortfall in the fiscal year 2009 budget, Palmer administration officials told City Council Tuesday. Business Administrator Jane Feigenbaum said even that shortfall would come, even with an anticipated 13-cent tax increase, following the tax hike Trentonians saw this year.

Mayor Douglas H. Palmer and his city business officials ought to seriously deliberate on cutting major positions and department sectors to make up the deficit, instead of consecutive, large-scale tax-rate increases.

This suggestion comes out of the reality that Trenton’s city government is extremely top heavy, especially in the amount of gratuitous positions of employment attached to Mayor Palmer himself.

There are mayor’s aides, and a chief of staff who is only needed because of Mayor Palmer’s infrequent presence inside Trenton's borders. There are three separate drivers assigned to the mayor, all of which earn about $70,000 or more that a Trenton Police Department detective earns annually.

Despite having significantly less population, Trenton’s city government is way larger than it was under the Holland administration, and significantly larger than the government of Hamilton Township, which has several times more area and about 6,000 more people in population.

Judging by Mayor Palmer’s recent treatment of longtime city employees as cannon fodder in the ongoing residency case, it is likely that the monetary axe will fall on lesser employees, and not any of the high-ranking and highly unnecessary positions that currently suck salary and benefit money out of the city coffers, at an increasingly prodigious rate.

City Council should seriously consider using its statutory budget powers to fleece the hell out of the crowd of unnecessary city employees that make a living off of performing unneeded work for the mayor of a relatively small urban municipality. A couple hundred thousand dollars could be made up in that area alone, through some careful cutting and elimination of positions.

This is Trenton, and Mayor Palmer is not the mayor of a massive city that requires an equally massive administrative bureaucracy. Paired with Trenton's size, such an organization only serves to interfere with the rest of the city’s finances.

Council members, please take an axe to such an edifice.

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