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Thread: Budgets: what is getting cut/added in your professional budget?

  1. #1
    Cyburbian Queen B's avatar
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    Budgets: what is getting cut/added in your professional budget?

    We are heavy into Budget season. This morning they handed us yet another copy of the proposed budget.

    It is election year so our officials are extremely reluctant to increase the mill levy but with all the rising cost they almost have to.

    I took a fairly heavy cut in travel and education. I never mind sucking it up and helping out but if it goes on long then it could mean deciding which organization to belong to or not. We have already cut out of state trips. Now we have to decide where we go in state. Luckily I am in the center of the state so alot of conferences are coming to my area.

    What are you cutting out of your professional budget?
    It is all a matter of perspective!!!

  2. #2
    Super Moderator luckless pedestrian's avatar
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    Our budget year started July 1st and we start planning for the next fiscal year this September - I have shaved some of my contract services budget from previous years but I still ask for a lot because I figure I can live with what they cut - always ask for more than you need in budget requests!

    the recession will hit us soon if tourism drops up here but so far the numbers are good for this season -

    our budget feels the pain from health insurance, legal fees, understaffed Police Department (thus need for overtime) and bad & long winters (snow and ice) so I gave up $50k in my last budget year that I was going to carry over to cover some of the legal bills I got saddled with (not because I did anything, we had a crazy person who kept suing the town)

  3. #3
    Cyburbian Masswich's avatar
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    We just started our new fiscal year. It was a tough year Town-wide but thanks to the voters a tax increase was approved (Prop 2-and-a-half override, for you fellow Mass planners) and some of the worst was averted for a year, at least.

    In our department we avoided significant cuts by putting more staff onto CDBG projects- but that's not going to work much longer if the bad public finance situation continues. We're doing about as much CDBG as we can. We had a hiring freeze and when it was lifted we were able to eventually convince the powers that be to allow us to fill some vacancies, but it took some convincing.

    Travel, etc., wasn't cut much but we never have much for it in our budget. With new AICP members in the office the training budget will be a problem in a year or two due to CM.

    In general its a little tough but we're relatively lucky in the grand scheme of things...

  4. #4
    Cyburbian Seabishop's avatar
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    People are getting cut. So far, I'm not one of them.

  5. #5
    Forums Administrator & Gallery Moderator NHPlanner's avatar
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    We just started July 1. Our department got reorganized (added the Building/Health/Zoning Department...now we're "Community Development"). The former department head position that lead the Building department is now a mid level position in the reorganized department, saving a little bit in salary and benefits.

    We ended up with about 2% less across the board on non-salary/benefits appropriations. Looks like much of the same for next year.

    Related note....my collective bargaining unit's contract lost by 4 votes (127-123) at Town Meeting in March (making matters even more personal....my brother and sister in law and mother and father in law just moved to the Town I work in late last year....and none of them came to Town meeting...there's my 4 votes!)....so I'm now entering year 4 without a contract....no COLA since 2005, and a new council that wants to hack our contract further.....
    "Growth is inevitable and desirable, but destruction of community character is not. The question is not whether your part of the world is going to change. The question is how." -- Edward T. McMahon, The Conservation Fund

  6. #6
    Cyburbian Plus
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    In my fair city's newspaper:
    To save money, council members have entertained the idea of cutting the usual 3 percent pay hike for the county's 800-plus employees to 2.5 percent.

    "The general instructions the departments have gotten are not to ask for anything more than you had last year, because it's not going to happen," ....
    Glad I got my 15 yr merit increase already.

  7. #7
    moderator in moderation Suburb Repairman's avatar
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    The economy and housing issues haven't really affect my city, though the city is trying to hedge its bets with its capital budgeting in case things take an ugly turn.

    We are going through a reorg right now, so I don't really know at this point how things are going to wash out in our department. We may get 1-2 additional employees.

    HR is conducting a position analysis survey and salary market analysis. This is to address creep in job duties and ensure our salaries are competitive with other cities in the region. The HR Director has already told me that the planning department seems to have major issues with job duty creep and lack of competitive wages. We can't attract any mid-level planners and the only reason I'm still here has more to do with quality of life and that I find the city interesting.

    "Oh, that is all well and good, but, voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger. It works the same way in any country."

    - Herman Göring at the Nuremburg trials (thoughts on democracy)

  8. #8
    Cyburbian Habanero's avatar
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    Mainly I think training budgets are going to be cut. Which, for AICP folks, is unfortunate because of CM credits. Perhaps the cutting of a few special plans will happen as well, although I'm not sure if that's such a bad thing since it would be nice to get one finished before starting on another (since the other will be shelved and probably never finished).
    When Jesus said "love your enemies", he probably didn't mean kill them.

  9. #9
    Cyburbian zman's avatar
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    Haven't started anything yet, but I am sure that our new budget will be less reliant on incoming building permit fees.
    You get all squeezed up inside/Like the days were carved in stone/You get all wired up inside/And it's bad to be alone

    You can go out, you can take a ride/And when you get out on your own/You get all smoothed out inside/And it's good to be alone
    -Peart

  10. #10
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    We (the city) started charging restaurants for the health inspections they are required to undergo.

  11. #11
    Cyburbian rcgplanner's avatar
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    So far there are rumors of a zero-growth budget. Looking at no COL raise. The town is trying to shift more of the burden of insurance costs on the employee. Currently it is about $25/mo for singles, with a talk of $200/mo to $250/mo cost for next year. So basically it may be an actual decrease of pay of about $2,500/yr.

    For the Planning and Building department. Many of the long term plans and consultant work will be put off to the side or worked on by staff and maybe volunteers. We are looking at raising our fees. Training budget will be cut significantly.

    Sadly 2010 looks worse, as it will be the first full year of the property tax "reforms".

  12. #12
    Cyburbian wahday's avatar
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    I work for a non-profit. Our budget will stay exactly the same as last year, despite additional expenses. How we will do it, we're not exactly sure, but we will find a way. Also no COL raises for us, which is too bad. We did receive them the last two years and I was counting on it to, well, cover my increases in the cost of living.

    Evidently the City budget is not looking good either. I think they are projecting an overall deficit, but nothing is official at this point.
    The purpose of life is a life of purpose

  13. #13
    Cyburbian jmello's avatar
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    Our new city budget is basically zero growth. At the end of the last fiscal year, we had to cut a big chunk due to a gross miscalculation made by the county tax assessor. So, as a result of a small tax hike, this year we are basically back to where we were at the beginning of last year. The council did increase the rate a little more to fund the recommendations of a pay and class study. A lot of people made out like bandits and a lot more walked away with 2%, with a merit increase to come in January 2009.

    We are also consolidating city departments into one building in an effort to save rent money.

    Overall, our local economy is still pretty healthy with lots of building going on throughout the city, especially downtown. We also "benifited" from a year-long sewer moritorium that ended earlier this year. All of the stalled projects are now breaking ground or already under construction.

  14. #14
    Cyburbian TexanOkie's avatar
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    Our PPO. We're going to a High Deductible plan with a Health Savings Account. Everyone's pissed about it, too. Insurance companies won't pay me a dime until I've spent $3,500/year. If I add my spouse to my plan my deductible goes up to $7,000. We're also losing a $50/month allowance for additional policies (I'm currently using it for life and dental), so those will start being deducted from our paychecks.

  15. #15
    moderator in moderation Suburb Repairman's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by TexanOkie View post
    Our PPO. We're going to a High Deductible plan with a Health Savings Account. Everyone's pissed about it, too. Insurance companies won't pay me a dime until I've spent $3,500/year. If I add my spouse to my plan my deductible goes up to $7,000. We're also losing a $50/month allowance for additional policies (I'm currently using it for life and dental), so those will start being deducted from our paychecks.

    [Texas Specific] Why the hell aren't ya'll going to TML Intergovernmental Employee Benefits Pool? Ya'll have to be getting hammered on administrative costs & negotiating position for being such a small PPO client... [/Texas specific]

    You guys need to go find yourselves a new HR director and learn how to start using all of the TML services. With all of the stuff going on around your city, which should result in significant tax revenue increases, I'm a bit shocked they are looking to cut benefits.

    "Oh, that is all well and good, but, voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger. It works the same way in any country."

    - Herman Göring at the Nuremburg trials (thoughts on democracy)

  16. #16
    Cyburbian btrage's avatar
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    Just met with the budget committee. I'm losing my part-time clerical assistant, although I sort of knew this was coming.

    But, I got the go ahead to start a summer internship program.

  17. #17
    Cyburbian MacheteJames's avatar
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    All departments here were told to cut 10% from their budgets. There is also talk of having employees pay 25% of health insurance costs. The union will fight this tooth and nail. If it happens, this would push my finances very close to the breaking point as I make just enough to live on with no savings at this point.

  18. #18
    Cyburbian Emeritus Chet's avatar
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    Three jobs ago, it was Prudence that got cut.

    Two jobs ago, nothing got cut till after I was gone (although I suspected I was o the block), now I hear its a train wreck.

    One job ago, it was me that got cut.

    Current job: Working from home, low company overhead, using the KISS principle.

  19. #19

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    Interns, Travel and Professional Training - Education.

  20. #20
    Budgets are frozen at the 2008 level.

    2010-2011 look to be real downers around here as a new property tax system kicks in. I'd expect deep, deep cuts.

  21. #21
    Cyburbian
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    What are people specifically talking about with new property tax systems? Our property taxes here went up 7% across the board. I'll pay $175 more next year but because of that our budgets haven't been slashed nor positions reduced. That's why property taxes are not the devil (I'm talking to you, Southwest!).

  22. #22
    Corn Burning Fool giff57's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by paiste13 View post
    What are people specifically talking about with new property tax systems? Our property taxes here went up 7% across the board. I'll pay $175 more next year but because of that our budgets haven't been slashed nor positions reduced. That's why property taxes are not the devil (I'm talking to you, Southwest!).

    Taxes are up because of a state wide re-valuation. Is your city's property tax revenue up as well? Iowa's residential property tax roll back usually eats up most of that increase. Unless you are lucky like we are and have over 80% commercial valuation.
    “As soon as public service ceases to be the chief business of the citizens, and they would rather serve with their money than with their persons, the State is not far from its fall”
    Jean-Jacques Rousseau

  23. #23
    Cyburbian mike gurnee's avatar
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    Training and education seems to be a common cut. AICP, are you listening? I am not sure I can afford my upcoming state chapter conference. Will be over $1,000.

  24. #24
    Cyburbian rcgplanner's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by paiste13 View post
    What are people specifically talking about with new property tax systems? Our property taxes here went up 7% across the board. I'll pay $175 more next year but because of that our budgets haven't been slashed nor positions reduced. That's why property taxes are not the devil (I'm talking to you, Southwest!).
    In Indiana, the brillant governor decided to 'reform' property taxes by placing a cap of 1% on them. The real effect will happen in 2010 and beyond when the cap goes into effect. The state basically told local governments sorry, but you just need to budget better. This is from the same governor who hasn't found a state asset he isn't willing to sell to the private sector. The projection is by 2011, the Town I work for is going to have a deficit of almost $800,000. We are going to have to raise our fees, but we have to be careful we stay competitive.

  25. #25
    Quote Originally posted by rcgplanner View post
    In Indiana, the brillant governor decided to 'reform' property taxes by placing a cap of 1% on them. ~snip~ The projection is by 2011, the Town I work for is going to have a deficit of almost $800,000. We are going to have to raise our fees, but we have to be careful we stay competitive.
    Just to clarify a little: Single-family is capped at 1% of assessed value, but rental is 2% and commercial/industrial is 3%. Basically, if you area bedroom 'burb, you're screwed. Down here, we're looking at a $1.2 mil reduction even with a fairly diverse land use landscape. As tight as our budget is, that's going to mean serious reductions in force including public safety.

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