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Thursday, October 2, 2008

Cut the fat

When good government officials are faced with budget deficits and shortfalls, they make thoughtful deliberations on what services need to be slashed and what positions need to be cut.

In this respect, the administration under Trenton Mayor Douglas H. Palmer has proven itself particularly inept, in choosing to let the axe fall on such important institutions as the city’s library system and the ranks of low-ranking employees rather than itself, a bloated and fattened administration that weighs down the rest of the city‘s finances.

Now, in part because of the unneeded, and perhaps unlawful positions permeating the city administration, all city departments are faced with 10 percent or greater budget cuts and a promise of multiple layoffs of the very employees who populate Trenton with good middle-class wage earners.

City Council, having the power of the purse, needs to demand budget information from the Palmer administration and begin taking steps to prioritize city services and employment positions, preserving necessary services like the Trenton Free Public Library and as many of the helpful, low-ranking employment positions as possible.

Well-compensated and unneeded positions like the assistant business administrator, the chief of staff, and the multitude of executive aides and secretaries that have existed only since the advent of the Palmer administration are what needs to go.

The city has no use for these positions, except as a web of support for a mayor who is frequently outside of the city doing bigger and better things than taking care of his hometown.

The chief of staff is a true abomination, because it never even existed before Mayor Palmer, and for good reason. It appears to have no basis in law, and is certainly a perversion of the city’s municipal code that indicates just how large a sense of entitlement the city’s mayor has developed as the length of his tenure has increased.

But Trenton’s taxpayers can no longer bear the weight of Mayor Palmer’s ego or the extravagant system of support that has been allowed to develop, to the great detriment of the city’s finances.

Faced with this budget crisis, City Council must make the prudent decision to begin cutting away at this administrative fat, to preserve important city services like libraries while preventing the need for future, massive tax cuts that threaten to siphon off any prospects of good economic development.

Trenton can ill afford Mayor Palmer’s high cost, and it is time for residents to push their City Council to bring that cost down.

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