Sunday, December 02, 2007

THIS IS THE KIND OF BUDGET SPENDING TRANSPARENCY I'D LIKE TO SEE IN GREENBURGH...

EYEING A STATE'S SPENDING ONLINE If a resident, reporter, vendor, government watchdog or even a state employee wants to know how Texas spent $74.5 billion last year, it's as easy as looking it up online. The state comptroller's office launched a new database, Where the Money Goes, that details spending by all state agencies and institutions of higher education. The new tool lets users search state expenditures by agency, payee, spending category and purchasing classification, and gives transaction details that include amounts and dates, name of the agency making the payment and name of the payee. The database is automatically updated at the end of every day, and also features best practices for government purchases, a glossary of terms and a spotlight on government savings. The site encourages visitors to submit best practices, and hopes the transparency will lead to new efforts to curb spending and improve government efficiency. Texas' site joins similar efforts in Kansas, Minnesota, Oklahoma, Hawaii and Missouri.
from GOVERNING MAGAZINE


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39 comments:

Anonymous said...

conferences, expense accounts, vouchers-all expenditures should be made public.

Anonymous said...

I'm all for this kind of transparency - if it isn't a politican's smokescreen which hides meaningful answers behind a cascade of useless details.
For example:
Does it detail how much the system itself cost? A check to a vendor isn't really the whole answer.
Does it detail how much the system costs to maintain? Again, a check written to a service company is a great starting point, but fails to provide a complete and accurate answer.
A "programmatic" approach is far more useful. As an example, let's pretend the Town collects garbage from the residents and wants to know how much it costs to do so.
Analyzing the elements which go into collecting the garbage is the first step:
We need a garbage truck - we know what it costs if we go to the dealer and plunk down cash, but what does it cost annually if we borrow money in the capital budget to make the purchase?
Garbage trucks require maintenance - how much does it cost to service the truck for a year? How much for gas (or diesel) and oil and tires and insurance. What does it cost to provide a garage for the truck? Each of these has an alternative - which is not to do maintenance or provide a garage, but how much does not providing those things shorten the life of the truck? Will our truck be unusable before we've finished paying for it because we didn't maintain it?
Sadly, this recitation of just the cost of the truck to collect garbage isn't complete - we need to consider a large number of other factors as well.
Then there is the cost of staffing the truck. We can look at the checks being drawn and get the personnel costs for the DPW. A great starting place, but then there are pension costs and health insurance costs and liability insurance costs - each of which is represented by a part of each of several checks drawn to several different vendors. To know how much it costs to collect the garbage we need to know these costs too.
Now there is the question of supervision. How much of the Town Clerk's annual time is spent on overseeing the DPW - likewise how much time (other than riding around for a day checking out what really happens) does the Supervisor spend on DPW -and how much time do our Town Board members spend? A portion, however small, of the annual compensation of each of these is folks is attributable to the cost of collecting the garbage.
While knowing what check were drawn is clearly useful - it is but one simple step on a complicated project to determine what municipal services actually cost. Do not be deceived (or seduced) into believing this kind of system is an answer! It is only one of several tools which is necessary.

what about valhalla? said...

paul - why arent you demanding the valhalla school district account for every dime the town illegally gave them?

Anonymous said...

Why is Fund T not transparetn

Anonymous said...

9:30 has just demonstrated why we need the management and operations review that Paul Feiner will ask for.

Anonymous said...

The problem with Mr. Feiner
"asking for that management and operations view" is doing that work is HIS JOB.
We can save a lot of money by eliminating the Supervisor's job and replacing it with an ombusdman (the part of the job Feiner likes and is very good at) and a professional manager (the part of the job Feiner is continually trying to duck).
Sure, it may cost a few dollars more in thge first year, but the savings in the long run from having a professionally managed town will offset the cost the first time we aren't underinsured, or failing to maintain equipment which so that we can get its full design life from it, or misapplying funds received from WESTHELP....

Anonymous said...

I think Paul want us the public to have transparency?

Mr. Lets keep it Clean said...

Want to save the town big money. Leaf pick up probally spends alot of the budget. I think home owners should bag ALL of the leaves instead of leaving piles that have to be picked up probally on overtime costing alot of money. This would also keep the town looking alot cleaner. Not only that have you ever seen the damage to the road the machine causes? this in turn cause road repair again more money.

Anonymous said...

MR.You are 100% right.
Bagging leaves is the right thing to do.
This system should be tried for one time if it works well and good if not one can always go back to the old system.
Paul this is a must for clean streets and safety.

Anonymous said...

When is Parks and Recs going to submit budget alternatives? That is whre the real luxuries/excesses are???

Anonymous said...

Paul as some one said at last nights meeting,I think it was the judge,LEARN HOW TO SAY NO IT CANNOT BE DONE .
We all want raises but there is no chance in todays economy.
The salaries have gotten out of hand.
What could happen if you say no?
What would happen if everyone gets together and say we will not pay taxes?
You have to do something to save Greenburgh.
We voted you in to get good government,but it looks like we have to pay dearly for the victory.
Another thing MR.BASS leaving early AGAIN does not realize what he is doing to himself if he still wants to stay in politics.
He is like a child that did not get his way .TOO BAD

Anonymous said...

We'll save more money by bagging Feiner than by bagging leaves.

The big ticket items throughout the Town Budget are personnel costs. Unionized employees (which means just about EVERYBODY except the Supervisor, members of the Town Board and a very tiny number of consultants) cannot be denied a raise if their contract provides for one. Civil service rules are very strict about laying off employees - you must permanently discontinue a position in order to remove the incumbent(s). Those whose jobs are discontinued have FIRST rights to "bump" someone with less seniority - whether or not the bumper possesses the necessary qualifications to do the job.
What will happen if we start declaring layoffs? The part-time employees are supposed to be the first fired, followed in seniority order by others. What we will end up with is a top-heavy salary structure and departments filled with the most senior but not necessarily the most productive employees.
I'm afraid we will need to grin and bear it for the moment - but our elected officials should pause and remember our predicament the next time they sit down at the bargaining table. Don't buy votes with sweetheart municipal workers contracts - save our Town from ever increasing taxes instead.

Anonymous said...

I think that most of the union contracts are standard COLA raises. No big perks there.

hal samis said...

Dear 8:59,
Amen!

Dear 9:11,
The problem is not the COLA raises in union contracts.
It is with almost everything else.

Anonymous said...

One way to take care of this high budget is to say NO.
If you need help in saying NO i'm sure there are residents that will help you.
tHIS IS ONE TIME THAT YOU HAVE TO STAND UP AND SHOW WHO IS RUNNING THE SHOW.
Samis explained the library problem and the police problem.
The library is not functioning at this time why do they need so much money.
The raises that are requested in the police dept.are ridiculous at this stage of the game.
There are too many police personnel in office jobs where they can be outsorced.
Get them out in the street.
We did some construction at police headquarters recently and now they want a new building.
I have yet to see a money tree growing in Greenburgh
Again Paul you have got to say no.We cannot think of adding to police personnel's pensions by giving them these raises.
This is a common practice throughout the states but here at this time when many residents are hurting it has to stop.
It's up to you to do the right thing,we have spoken but have you heard a word that was said .

Anonymous said...

Buyouts are a good way of cutting personnel
Many of your employees have enough time to retire.
Unions have to understand what is happening here in our area with .
If we all refuse to pay taxes will they be issued paper money.
You cannot get water from rocks.
This is what these employees want,since they never had a problem up to now,
Things were going too smooth for so many years but now comes the time to tighten our belts.

Anonymous said...

Paul has said no. He said no to the library. The town board said yes.
Paul said no to hiring outside counsel. The Town board said yes.
Paul said no to department heads year after year and was overruled by the Town Board

Anonymous said...

I do know that paul did his very best to hold down expenses.The town board not only screwed the supervisor but screwed the residents to the hilt.
THANK YOU TOWN BOARD.
WE GOT RID OF TWO NEXT THE TWO OF YOU FOLLOW.

Anonymous said...

Dear 1:34 -
A minor, but important correction.
Paul said no to the library, but the community voted yes.
Why didn't the community have the opportunity to vote NO to acquiring Taxter Ridge?

mr give it away said...

paul and his gang of four also said yes to valhalla school district and gave away millions. paul also uninsured the town which also cost millions. paul and his gang of four also bought taxter ridge for millions more than it was worth.

a million here a million there - it all adds up to alot of money.

Anonymous said...

Taxter idge should not have been purchased,but because of friendship the deal went forward
Now the only thing left is to try to unload it.
Is this land buildable,if so maybe Cappelli or Trump would be interested .
It's about time that this property is put up for sale.
Paul contact the other two partners,the State and County if this could be done if so put it on the market asap.
Why pay for land that is just sitting there when it could be sold to bring in revenue and above all with homes the property will be back on the tax roles.

Anonymous said...

The county is also tight for cash now, so they might be cooperative, and if both the Town and the County are cooperative, then the state might go along.

Anonymous said...

Please forget about trying to sell any parkland.
First, getting permission from the State of NY to sell dedicated parkland is incredibly difficult and time-consuming. Our representatives in Albany do not have the kind of clout necessary to log-roll a deal like this. As both have proudly proclaimed (albeit at different moments) neither of them is in any way beholding to the Governor, the Assembly Speaker or the Senate Majority Leader - what that means is they have nothing to trade.
Second, no bills actually pass in Albany until the end of the session - which is long after our budget needs to be adopted. We cannot adopt a deficit budget (one where the sources of revenue are less than the anticipated spending). The only way to balance the budget in a timely fashion is to show the necessary revenues as taxes.
Had the Supervisor begun work on an Albany bailout last Spring, we might be in better shape - but given his lack of understanding of the nuances of finance, he didn't know and so didn't start the process.
You can blame the Sheehananigans too - sad to say that amongst the entire Town Board no one saw it coming. If, as his defenders might have it, Paul knew we were in deep budgetary trouble and after his wise counsel not to raid the fund balance was ignored he still did nothing, well, shame on him. Such a decision would have been nothing more nor less than sour grapes politics and he wouldn't do that would he?)
LEt this be a lesson to us - NOTHING comes without a price which must be paid sooner or later. We deferred and borrowed and were the beneficiaries of an incredibly strong economy which generated enormous amounts of additional revenues in things like the mortgage tax - and we lived well, if a bit profligately. Now is our winter of discontent.

Anonymous said...

Francis Sheehan forced the Board to stay up till the wee hours of the morning last year analyzing the budget. He created a mess. He should step down.

Anonymous said...

Then we should start working on selling the land for next year -- these budget issues arent going away.

Anonymous said...

Even white plains, with much greater revenue, does not have a full time indoor pool. The pool at the high school is open certain weekends and evenings for adults. We should be leasing out pool for private use during more hours.

Anonymous said...

HEY HAL

(IN RESPONSE TO YOUR 8:15 ON THE POLICE CUTS PAGE)

I THINK YOUR COMMENTS ARE ABOUT AS STUPID AS YOU LOOK ON BROADCASTS OF THE TOWN BOARD MEETINGS.

FOR YOU TO PUT FIREMEN AND BEER, AND COPS AND DOUGHNUTS IN THE SAME FOOLISH RESPONSE - YOU HAVE BALLS. MAYBE ONE DAY YOU OR A LOVED ONE (WELL, OK YOU) HOUSE WILL BE ON FIRE...MAYBE THE FD WILL BE "GETTING BEER" AS YOU PUT IT. MAYBE ONE DAY YOU (FORGET THE LOVED ONE) WILL NEED A POLICE OFFICER.....OH YEAH, THEY'LL BE AT "DUNKIN DOUNUTS" AS YOU PUT IT....

THESE MEN AND WOMEN ARE HERE TO SAVE YOUR LIFE.

WHEN YOU RUN AWAY FROM SOMETHING THAT SCARES YOU OR YOU JUST CANT HANDLE, MAKE SURE THE COP OR FIREMAN RUNNING IN YOUR DIRECTION TO HELP YOU DOES NOT TRIP YOU FOR YOUR FOOLISH COMMENTS...YOU FOOL!!!


WHAT DO WE NEED ANOTHER TERRORIST ATTACK BEFORE YOU APPRECIATE WHAT YOU HAVE HERE IN POLICE AND FIRE.... YOU ARE AN ABSOLUTE FOOL !! GET A LIFE

WHAT DO YOU DO FOR A LIVING ? YOU SHOULD BE A CLOWN !!!!

Anonymous said...

THE ATTACK THAT WE ARE EXPERIENCING TODAY IS AN ATTACK ON OUR POCKETBOOKS.
Mr. Samis is only trying to show how foolishly our money is being spent.
It seems that you do not want to see the errors that the people asking for all the money are making.
Well you must be in a position richer than Rockafella ,if so triple or quadruple the amount of taxes you pay to make up some of the short fall for next year.
If the board had listened to Samis
Especially with the library maybe it would not have been voted in.
If they take the budget apart the way Samis showed them maybe the taxes would be lowered.
The only thing that you are doing is bad mouthing the ones who are trying to help the residents.
If you say that he is a clown you are making a big mistake,maybe you wished you had his background in managerial skills..
.

Anonymous said...

Al Regula have you driven arround the neighborhoods lately.
Does it not look dirty.
Is it not a safety factor.
looking at this now the only solution is for next year for home owners to bag the leaves.
It only takes a law to be voted upon by the board.
THINK ABOUT THIS .

Anonymous said...

Who are all you people that idolize Hal Samis? Wake up!
I hope those of you who are attacking the police and fire departments never need emergency services! You obviously haven't needed it to date or you would be singing another tune!

Anonymous said...

Why has only PD responded to the budget request?

What about Parks and Rec? What are they, exempt???

samis has guts said...

dear anon at 11:12am

you got someone better?
samis, who doesnt even pay taxes, is at least doing the work. fact is he says what cowards like feiner and juettner wont say - we cannot afford our lifestyle anymore.

Anonymous said...

You better believe that Samis has guts.
To bad that there aren't more people like Samis to fight for the residents.

Anonymous said...

The budget hearing is Wednesday. How come the Town Council members are so quiet? Can't they give us their budget cuts in a timely manner?

Anonymous said...

A few more weeks of secrecy. Then, sunshine and transparency with Kevin, Sonja!
YEA

Anonymous said...

Yeah, and payments to Valhalla and GC.

You go guys

Anonymous said...

The problem with this kind of statement is that it shows no serious thought process. The Town of Greenburgh is in the midst of some soul searching about the cost of government and now one wants to add this? What will it cost to implement and secondarily, what are the annual operating / maintenance costs? More staff? Open transparent government is good. Just hope that the new Town Clerk lives up to her campaign pledges and works for the people and not against the people to protect the politicians. That should suffice for the near term until the Town sorts out this tax mess. Get your priorities right!

Anonymous said...

Nothing is going to help Greenburgh unless the supervisor and the board learn how to say NO.

Anonymous said...

Paul ,Why do you let topics leave the main page. People on here had good Idea's to help cut the budget.
Mainly on the police dept. And it's gone. Are you going to take advice on these cuts.
Make all paramedics civiaians.