PLAINFIELD, NJ - After conducting a series of budget deliberations with each of the City departments, the Citizens Budget Advisory Committee (CBAC) appeared before the council to present its findings and recommendations. One notable beneficiary of the recommendations was the Plainfield Public Library which will have its $45,000 shortfall restored. That was “the magic number “stated by Mary Ellen Rogan, Director of the Plainfield Public Library and Pat Flemming, member of the Board of Trustees at the budget deliberations held on April 9th and represented the amount needed for a full-time Bilingual (Spanish) Digital Literacy Trainer to assist with the city's Cisco program.
Valerie Ellis, chair of the CBAC, presented highlights of the committee’s observations:
- In a number of casese, the request for Professional Training & Staff Development appears to be overstated relative to historical trends and/or year 2018 actuals. This was also noted in the 2017 and 2018 report as well and should be addressed.
- In many cases, outside consulting services appears to be used as a contingency fund and seems to be over budgeted and underutilized.
- Overtime hours in some departments/divisions are extremely high.
- Many Departments/Divisions have budgeted for Publications resulting in higher than needed allocations and loss of synergy between Departments/Divisions
- Hardware and Software Maintenance is budgeted throughout various Departments/Divisions
- A breakdown of interdepartmental transactions was not provided for review thereby limiting the ability to identify movement of funds and employees
Ellis concluded with “A review of the budget shows a range of priorities for government spending, which reflect the diverse priorities and opinions of Plainfield residents and a desire to accomplish economic growth while also maintaining a balanced budget and lower property taxes.”
The CBAC is comprised of 7 residents, each appointed by a member of the city council. The 2019 committee was comprised of Valerie Ellis, Geri Agur, Shian Andrew, Lyle Kamenir, Tuwisha Rogers-Simpson, Tonya Stepney McNeil and Juan Velazquez.
Finance Director, Ron West, recommended that the Council accept the budget with the restoration of the $45K for the library. The council will vote on the budget at the regular scheduled meeting on May 13th.
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