Tremitiedi: City Audit
Here’s an informational brief to Hoboken411 readers from Richard Tremitiedi.
“To update and clarify previous communication, the names of three individuals qualified to serve as Hoboken’s fiscal monitor will be supplied by Susan Jacobucci, Director of the Division of Local Government Services, Department of Community Affairs. Director Jacobucci is an attorney who according to sources has a reputation of doing sound work. She certainly knows that:
- Hoboken’s loose spending has to stop.
- The bad decisions have to stop.
It has been stated by Kathryn Kenny, Hoboken City Finance Department consultant that the monitor will be able to commence around Mid-August, 2008.
In the meantime, all city council resolutions, ordinances, contracts and licenses are required to be reviewed by the Division of Local Government Services (DLGS). This is readily shown on the agenda of the Hoboken City Council meeting of July 16, 2008, which also includes the submission of the SFY’09 Spending Plan by Mayor David Roberts.
This should be of extreme interest to the residents of Hoboken.
DCA to audit Public Safety Dept.
“To Hoboken 411:
Yesterday, July 10, 2008, representatives of the Department of Community Affairs met with Mayor David Roberts regarding their duties as monitor of the City of Hoboken.
Part of the group consisted of representatives of the Division of Local Government Services. As best that can be determined, one of their functions was the commencement of the audit of the Department of Public Safety, Divisions of Police and Fire. The course that is normally followed is to initially take a look at the table of organization for both divisions and then to peruse the collective bargaining contracts.
In my role as consultant to Mayor David Roberts, I recommended this course of action in a written report to the Mayor dated March 17, 2008, which was distributed the City Council, Hoboken 411 and the local press. Copy is attached.
It took the action of the Department of Community affairs to bring this about at this time.
Additionally, representative(s) of the Local Government Finance Board met with Councilman Michael Russo, Chairman of the Finance Committee of the Hoboken City Council.”
Concerned Resident Taxpayer
Read the report after the jump!!!
To: Honorable Mayor David Roberts
From: Richard Tremitiedi, Special Advisor
Date: March 17, 2008
Subject: Efficiency, Economic and Quality of Life Recommendations
Relative to my role as a special consultant to the mayor and after attending council meetings, budget workshops, and select discussions with professionals, administrative and elected officials, please be advised as follows:
- To help the city deliver municipal services in a more cost effective manner it is recommended that a detailed operational audit of all city departments be performed by an experienced, recognized authority. Since considerable funds have already been expended or encumbered from the current fiscal year’s budget, this longer term forensic approach presents a realistic time frame for planning to curtail future expenditures. The council has listened to one presentation on this service. The recommended time frame should be approximately 6 months.
- Since public safety is of paramount importance and represents approximately $30 million of our current budget, special unbiased advice is recommended for the Department of Public Safety. For the Police Department, such assistance is available from the New Jersey State Department of Community Affairs, Division of Local Government Services and John Jay College of Criminal Justice, New York, N. Y. The Fire Department can get input from the State of New Jersey Department of Community Affairs, Division of Local Government Services in coordination with the Division of Fire Safety, New Jersey City University and John Jay College. The completed time frame should be 6 months to one year.
For a longer process and commitment to excellence, accreditation for the Police and Fire Departments is highly recommended. For the Police Department, the New Jersey State Police Chief’s Association has a special program for New Jersey. For the Fire Department, there is the Center for Public Safety Excellence, a non-profit 501 (C) (3) corporation, which provides training and career resource services to fire service agencies throughout the United States. This organization began in 1986 when the International Association of Fire Chiefs and the International City-County Management Association developed concepts for continuous improvement of the fire service. The time frame should be two to five years for completion.
- All the budgetary recommendations of the City Council, especially those of the Finance Committee which was submitted to the Business Administrator should be followed-up. Particular attention should be given to:
- Reducing the cost of medical benefits to city employees
- Audit of the city’s transportation fleet
- Increased revenues from recyclables
- Reducing the cost of special service contracts
- Parking Utility surplus revenue should be used to provide parking solutions, i.e. to purchase property (lots) and to pay off its internal debt and not to be used as a revenue source to fund the operations of city government. In addition a separate account should be established and yield the best possible interest. The cash receipts from the parking meter collections should have proper internal controls and be deposited as per law and city auditor recommendations.
- There should be serious negotiations with New Jersey Transit on the development of railroad property. The objective is for the city to receive funds to provide parks and recreational space such as basketball and tennis courts as well as soccer and baseball fields. Affordable housing can also be included in the mix.
- PILOT payments, also known as abatements, should be scheduled more carefully and should be of shorter duration. This is important so as to not overburden the conventional tax payer who could be adversely affected with any future increases in the school or county tax levy. This will also soften the shock to some owners of the older buildings that may be adversely impacted with any future re-evaluation of property in Hoboken.
- The sale of city assets should be avoided. When such sale is deemed necessary, all revenues should be used to provide for long lasting capital improvements. The experience of the Observer Highway garage sale, the proceeds of which were used to “plug” previous budget deficits should serve as an abject lesson. For years we have been paying bond interest which currently amounts to approximately $108,000 per month and may now have to borrow an additional $4 million to have the anticipated sales proceeds included as revenue in this fiscal year’s budget, which is still not adopted.
In the final analysis, our dilemma is the same as the State of New Jersey – we spend too much! We are spending more than our revenues! Of course, we must strive to increase revenue; however, controlled spending is the area that must be given top priority in order to have a balanced path to fiscal responsibility. When preparing the new fiscal year’s budget, it is a good budgetary practice to forecast two to three years into the future. Accordingly, every department and division head must manage with this in mind and be held strictly accountable. It is up to the Mayor and City Council to lead by example and exact the control and discipline that is necessary to oversee this great city.
As always, I am available to provide additional explanation or information as may be required.