GRANOLAPARK: Budget-proof

GRANOLAPARK • BY GILBERT

Dear Readers,

We write today’s post from the Granolapark budget-proof bunker’s deepest chamber.

Yes, Dear Readers, it is that unspeakable time of year again when the twin horrors of pollen and the Takoma Park city budget spew forth from the recesses of whatever-it-is they recess in when they are not spewing.

Your Gibert has been sheltered from most of it, but a few budgetary shrapnel shards have penetrated.

Rate down, staff up

One important fact that managed to reach our ears, despite inserted fingers, is that the tax rate will not go up!

That’s a surprise because property taxes have gone down, along with the real estate market. In short, that means the city will get less revenue.

There’s other revenue coming in from the state however, enough – and here’s another surprise – to hire more city staff!

It’s twice surprising since this budget was crafted by the acting city manager.

Acting City Manager Suzanne Ludlow is a “placeholder” until a new city manager is hired. It might seem a bit uppity of her to add personnel, but it is largely at the city council’s request. The council wants the city library open on Sundays, and that takes more staff.

Senior moment

There is also what Ludlow calls a “new thing” in the community – a call for more senior services. Her proposal includes a staff-person whose job would be to help seniors find resources. This is in aid of the city’s new “aging in place” movement. The goal is to help senior residents stay in their homes, assisted by the community.

Two and a half full-time jobs would be with the city cable tv operation. There are now 4 part-timers, so, that actually amounts to a lay-off of two people.

The police would get a part-time emergency management coordinator. We hope he or she has not read our April 1 posting.

All told, the budget adds 5.5 full time positions. Sort of.

Body parts

It’s odd how they count staff. Obviously, there can’t be half of a full-time job. They count them as “full-time equivalents’ (FTE) and they often come out in fractions. Either that, or the Public Works Department is getting into some extreme recycling with body parts. That might explain the lightening bolts and evil laughter coming from their facility late at night. If you see a pair of arms re-shelving books next time you’re at the library – you’ll know.

The Community Center will get some fix-ups under Ludlow’s proposed budget. The building is not as new as it was a mere 10 years ago. Repairs are needed and some reconfigurations would be welcome.

Rebate

Even from our bunker we heard several city councilmemebers beating their desks and demanding the city return the county tax duplication rebate to the residents. How they would do that is still not clear. But, We are most gratified that they remembered whose money it was.

The $650,000 tax duplication rebate rolled in last May – almost a year ago – from the county. There is another $750,000 in the rebate fund, too – left over from a bond loan payment or something. Whatever, it is loose money, and is in the pile that might get returned to residents.

College of hard knocks

In other news, Montgomery College wants to renovate a controversial building. They came to the council, as they agreed to whenever they want to build or expand, and ran into a hurricane of neighbor hostility.

In short, the community around the school is adamantly against making an already-despised building bigger and more intrusive. The council was more polite about it, but they seemed to be on the residents’ side. This is a development, so to speak, to watch.

Waste no time

Let’s not waste any more time on voting age, OK? It’s probably going to pass, and it won’t make much difference if it does. At this point only 2 council members want to put the voting reforms on a referendum so everybody can vote on it, so that’s not likely to happen. Insert your own snarky comment about the council not letting citizens vote on whether to let citizens vote.

Let’s get on to more important issues, such as . . . .

Screen Shot 2013-04-26 at 6.02.46 PM

How about this tie, eh?

– Gilbert

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About the Author

Gilbert
Gilbert is the pseudonym of a hard-bitten, hard-drinking, long-time Takoma Park resident who maintains the granolapark blog. Gilbert and William L. Brown — Granola Park's mild-mannered chief of staff, researcher, and drink pourer — have never been seen in the same place at the same time.

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