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Nazareth, Pa., United States

Friday, January 15, 2010

Allentown's 2009 Budget Deficit - $1.4 Million Higher Than Pawlowski Projected

Maybe they should have a bake sale.


Anonymous said...

Please correct me if I'm wrong but didn't a recent candidate a year ago warn Allentown residents about a deficit?

Anonymous said...

I got a novel idea. Start selling naming rights for parks and streets. I can see it now, instead of Hamilton Blvd, Molo....

Anonymous said...

This is shocking. Had voters known this, Pawlowski might have only limped to re-election with 70% of the vote. Allentown so richly deserves the mess its made for itself.

Alan Earnshaw said...

They'd have to sell a whole lotta cupcakes...

Chris Casey said...

Not to rain on the parade of people shocked at this news, but I am still waiting for anyone to offer a legitimate alternative to the smoke and mirrors show that is presently on stage. I read bitching, but not too many comprehensive or even thoughtful alternatives.

ironpigpen said...

Great time to do a super-duper Multi-Generational Destination Playground.

And connect a bunch of trails.

No question about it.

ironpigpen said...


There is an alternative.

Bernie O'Hare said...

Chris, It's easy to say "stop the spending." It's hard to decide where to stop that spending. Should we lay off cops?

Having said that, Michael Donovan has come up with a number of cost-saving ideas. Lou Hershman had a number of ideas involving the Parking Authority, which would save. Tony Phillips suggested agressive enforcement of business license collections, which could bring in $3 million.

My idea is a weekly bake sale.

Anonymous said...

One of my suggestions...We have a mayor AND a manager, we don't need both. We are a "strong mayor" form of government so I guess Pawlowski should be doing the work he was elected to do. If the voters wish to have a manager than the form of government should be studied by a charter commission, changed by ballot question, and and then the mayor should be downgraded to a figure head and his salary decreased not increased as it was this year. We are now paying 2 people (both with staff) to do the job of what one mayor used to do. More efficient? No, more bureaucratic. This kind of excess needs to stop.
Kim Beitler

Joe Hilliard said...

It's amazing what can be seen when the smoke - from the "smoke and mirrors" - blows away. As a person who warned years ago that Allentown's budgets were bogus, I and others were attacked as "partisan". Sorry, facts are not partisan, they are facts.

Wait till the reality of the city's pension situation becomes known. The city is, for all practical purposes, bankrupt.

Mr. Earnshaw, so glad you could chime in. Where is East Penn School District's "Budgetary Reserve"? Why are you borrowing yet another $5.5 million to balance your budget? What happened to the $2.4 million that was previously borrowed for a "baseball complex" for East Penn?

See, there is little difference between the fiscal irresponsibility of politicians with a "D" by their name or an "R". With that realization comes great power.

ironpigpen said...

I said stop the spending.

I agree - it is hard to know where to stop the spending sometimes.

Of course, governments can never spend absolutely nothing.

But there is a need to prioritize in life sometimes, particularly when money is tight.

I also asked you before as politely as humanly possible, are the Parks the city's number one priority?

How up the ladder if not?

Anonymous said...


There was a time when people did raise concerns and offer alternatives.For their efforts they were dragged through the mud by the forces that control the city.
Who needs that?

Scott Armstrong

Anonymous said...

SCOTT,LHershman found out challenging Pawlowski.

Anonymous said...

Ed is right, it is outside forces that are causing our budget problems. We need to borrow more money until the economy turns around then everything will be fine. I have faith in Ed, he is doing a fine job and is such a good and caring man.

Allentown Democrat Voter

Anonymous said...

The city (sure with "state money") is going to spend 2.5 million to pave Hanover Avenue. Sure there are some bad spots, but this will make speeding even easier. Could that money go for mucho police or the bridge over the Lehigh project? This is the madness, Sumner avenue and numerous alleys were paved. Does it have to be done NOW!!

Alan Earnshaw said...


I was not at the board meeting (I was attending the Emmaus High School Band Concert, in which my oldest daughter was performing), so I do not know what came out during the discussion of the proposed borrowing. From what I read in the agenda, the borrowing was for capital projects, not to balance the budget. I look forward to reading the minutes to get some of the details.

Anonymous said...

Read "Back to Prosperity" the Brookings Report on PA to find out what is causing Allentown's economic problems. Guess what? It's the suburbs! The suburban zero sum game is coming to its final rounds and big surprise, the cities lose out. Go ahead and blame the victim. It will make you feel better.

Anonymous said...

Chris -

You asked for it, here it goes. The assumptions are that you (the readers) are the Mayor and we're not raising taxes.

Step 1: A competant Mayor would cut the general fund budget across the board by 10% - 15%. This gets you about $8 - $12 million, which is close to what you will need (possibly more) when you factor in the 2010 structural deficit and add it to the $3.2 million from 2009.

The 10%-15% includes everything - police, fire, etc. Put it on the department heads to earn their salaries and come up with a way to achieve the current level of service. Force them to think outside the box.

Let the department heads know that if they don't find the 10%-15% cuts without maintaining the same level of service, you will make the cuts as you see fit. That should get their attention.

Do I think the police can cut 10% (about $2.5 million) without cutting personnel? That might be difficult. But suppose they can find $750,000? That's a step in the right direction.

We'll never know how much can be cut now because city government only pays lip service to cutting costs. Currently, cost-cutting is something that is only done to fill in a campaign brochure and to cover spending INCREASES elsewhere.

Step 2: Decide which programs are non-essential and can be cut. Look at getting back to the core functions of government (police, fire, public works, parks). Do we need to fund Community and Economic Development at the current levels? This is an area whose budget ballooned by millions when Pawlowski ran the department.

Step 3: Cut the overhead in City Hall. Eliminate the Managing Director, special assistants to the Mayor, and other positions that have been added since year 2000.

Step 4: Calculate what has been cut in steps 1-3. Hopefully it will total more than you are looking for. Then reallocate any excess back to the core functions of government (police, fire, public works).

Overall: A look back to the 2000 budget (Heydt's last) would do wonders when comparing it to the 2009 budget. If all this seems somewhat Draconian, too bad. The same people that predicted the $3.2 million deficit for 2009 were the same ones who project a deficit of about $5-$6 million for 2010.

WE FINISHED 2009 $3.2 MILLION IN THE RED. The time to bury our heads in the sand has passed. In short order reality will set in and the cuts will be made anyway, most likely in a way we don't like.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous 6:56 said...

Read "Back to Prosperity" the Brookings Report on PA to find out what is causing Allentown's economic problems. Guess what? It's the suburbs! The suburban zero sum game is coming to its final rounds and big surprise, the cities lose out. Go ahead and blame the victim. It will make you feel better.

Anon -

Who cares! Blame the suburbs all you want, it doesn't change the fact that you're spending more than you're taking in. You have to deal with the reality that you have, and deal with it now.

If you want to do a long-term study of the suburbs, perhaps a little soul-searching is in order first. The people who filled the suburbs came from somewhere, and mostly from our cities. Maybe it's time for an honest look at why they left.

Maybe all the government involvement (at all levels) in the cities is actually the problem. I know that it sure hasn't produced the Nirvana that we were promised.

ironpigpen said...

Anon 10:40


Author! Author!

Anonymous said...

What loser on here said Ed Pawlowski is a kind and caring man?!?!?!? SERIOUSLY!!!!!!! You must have never met him then. You should tell that to my mother who is losing her home, already lost her car because he had to shut down her business and take her licence so pawlowski can put in these high class places which will NEVER be used. Ed Pawlowski is a awful person and needs to be put back to Chicago where he belongs!!! With all the other corrupt politicans like Obama!!!