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Thursday, December 01, 2016

Allentown City Council Takes Command of 2017 Budget

Allentown City Council
The days of calling Allentown City Council a rubber stamp for Mayor Edwin "Fed Ed" Pawlowski are over. At last night's meeting, Council pulled the purse strings tight on next year's $104 million spending plan. On Fed Ed's birthday, they managed to find a $610,000 gift. But it's not for him. It will instead go for the economic development of Allentown's residents. Here's a summary of the amendments.
  • Council is doing a $60,000 compensation benefit analysis to establish a merit based personnel code in which wage hikes go to those who deserve them. 
  • Non-union employees will get a 1.5% payhike. Higher increases that Fed Ed wanted to give to his cronies have been rolled back. This will save $115,000.   
  • The police chief, assistant chief and captains will get a 3.5% payhike, while the fire chief will get a 2% raise. This corresponds to what the unions in those departments are getting.   
  • The Managing Director, Director of Community and Economic Development and Operations Manager positions will be funded at $1. Wisely, Council declined to eliminate the positions. This will reduce spending by $330,000.
  • The overtime budget has been cut 10%,which will reduce spending by $350,000
  • Payments to consultants and other professional services have been reduced 10%,saving $586,000.. 
  • Council has set aside a $50,000 contingency fund for any disputes with the Mayor that might require legal action. 
  • The EIT increase will be reduced 10%. 
  • $2,500 will fund a program that helps teach English to recent immigrants. 
  • $5,000 will be spent on cultural heritage events.
  • $5,000 will be spent for arts and cultural events.  
"I think what you're doing is great," said Betsy Levin, a retiree and city resident. "I don't need to say any more. You guys are on the right track. Yay!"

There was no discussion from Council itself. The amendments were adopted by a 6 to 1 vote. Candida Affa, a loyal Fed Ed ally, was the sole dissenter and even she hesitated before casting her No vote.

This was a remarkable display of independence and leadership from a Council that I once referred to as bobbleheads. Much of this is due to Council President Ray O'Connell, who has managed to put together several veto-proof majorities and has worked amazingly well with his fellow Council members. But much of the credit also goes to the numerous watchdogs like Dennis Pearson, Julian Kern, Lou Hershman, Robert Trotner and Glenn Hunsicker, who are regulars at City Council meetings.

The FBI gets a nod, too.

By way of full disclosure, this report is based on watching a video of the meeting. I was unable to make it to Allentown in time.


Anonymous said...

This was proper and needed. Council is finally showing "Mayor for life" the door. I especially like the de-funding of certain positions!

Anonymous said...

For the first time in my adult life..I'm proud of my City Council.

Anonymous said...

Merit based raises are the way to go. The sand baggers hate any type of performance measurement and they whine about "fairness" and other childish notions.

Annual reviews for all. Bad review? No salary increase. 2 bad reviews? No job.

Anonymous said...

"Annual reviews for all. Bad review? No salary increase. 2 bad reviews? No job."

I'd hope for the sake of City employees that the reviews were being done by competent professionals with the appropriate credentials as opposed to political hacks with agendas.

Anonymous said...

we all must not forget there are two on council that are REciepiants of the mayor's cure for life that seem to have served yet must have another job too make up for this CURE's allocations? I seem to REmember making a STATEment to three public servants about a reel CURE for this unsurmounting fiscal failure debt service borrowed upon too many times too even put to print except for like REwriting the bubble in a paraphrased version!
We could have the snakeoil salespeople and advertiZmentalistZ twiZt the wording for the carnival circus sideshows somemore, but than the community suffers as the ringmasterZ and oz behind the curtain benefit at a cost to true progression!
REpublican redd
humanist by design

Anonymous said...

Who does the reviewing is critical and has to be done by an outside agency, mo money from taxpayers so let's just play stupid like we have forever.

Anonymous said...

Let's get behind city council and support all but one for their help
Come to the next meeting to show the mayor his time is over
As the holiday needs a a gift that will last all through the next few years

Robert Trotner said...

Sounds good. The swamp isn't drained yet.

Anonymous said...

There was a collective collaboration that still seemed to get there same old carnival circus trix play upon the public and itZ interest underway after the gaval struck adjourned!