Monday, January 19, 2009

Now you see them...


So the Town Manager released his gloom and doom budget, up 3.2% over this year’s and tad over the Finance Committee’s recommendation to keep increases to only 2%. Four full-time positions will be eliminated…sort of.

His administrative assistant Gail Weston is getting the ax but will relocate to another position in the Leisure Services Recreation Empire. And the “human resources consultant” position currently occupied by Kay Zlogar who took early retirement a few years back and then returned as a “consultant” is also history. Last year she consulted $43,000 worth (on top of her retirement benefits).

But don’t play the violin for Ms.Zlogar, as she too is merely being reassigned: now she will consult/oversee the Health Claims Trust Fund--probably to the tune of $43,000.

I believe my Irish mother would describe these maneuvers as “robbing Peter to pay Paul.”

21 comments:

Anonymous said...

Lovely.

Anonymous said...

Does this budget assume an override? I hear it doesn't account for likely cuts in state aid.

LarryK4 said...

It assumes a "level funding” scenario meaning the 2.5% they can go up on property taxes (no Override) plus the same amount of state aid we garnered last year and with that we have a $2.7 million structural deficit.

BUT, if state aid does go down 10% then that will add another million. So real cuts are coming (because by now they know they will not get an Override.)

Anonymous said...

Amen to that!

Anonymous said...

Did "consulting/overseeing" the Health claims trust fund job exist before this? Sounds like what she has been doing with a new name.

LarryK4 said...

Well as Stan Gawle pointed out in a 12/05/08 Bulletin column she was paid $43,000 as a 'human resources consultant' to assist the 'human resources director' who earns $63,190.

But yeah, if I had to guess, her day-to-day consulting was probably mostly concerning the Health Claims Trust fund.

Anonymous said...

Has anyone asked Ms. Zlogar if she has hot water in her house? Because that should be the real issue, right Larry?

Anonymous said...

This is all very interesting -- it is very clear that bigtime budget cuts are coming, and that the town is going to have to be a tad more frugal, by a seven figure amount.

Could be fun....

Neil said...

Up 3.2% is the bottom line, and his instruction was to limit it to 2%. Next year when they give him his performance review for fiscal management, they better note that he exceeded his goal by more the 50%.

You'd think they could accomplish a 0% increase budget. Why the hell not?

Now, was Shaffer's budget calculated assuming a 5% or 10% decrease in local aid because if it is assuming a 0% cut in aid, then this budget will be 8.2% or 13.2% increase.

Ed said...

Kay Zlogar --- an interesting question about her:

The Mass State Retirement Law is that you can ONLY earn the difference between your retirement check and your old paycheck. So to keep the numbers simple, if you go out at 80% of salary and you were making $100K, the most you can make as a "03" is $20K.

And she is making $43K? HOW much was she making as an employee and/or how bad is her retirement package? Or is someone ignoring the rule stated above about how much one can earn???

Is that why she is being moved to another budget line?

Anonymous said...

Who knows, Ed. This is Amherst, remembero Most people get away with murder, except me, you and Larry.

Until later.........

Anonymous said...

"This is Amherst, remembero Most people get away with murder, except me, you and Larry."

You would think from the way you guys talk that this is the only small town politics in America.

You think Amherst is corrupt? Try Hadley. How about Northampton with the mayor handing the downtown hotel rights away in an underhanded manner?

I'm not saying not to be voices against crruption but don't think there's anything worse in Amherst than anyplace else.

LarryK4 said...

Why every small town in America needs bloggers (and every city an army of them)

Ed: I think she went out around 60-K. The 100-K club in Amherst is a pretty short list: Town Manager, School Super (well, the two of them combined) and Assistant Town Manager John Musante only broke in last year (when given a $10-K raise and promotion to Assistant Town Mgr from Finance Director as consolation prize for not getting the Town Mangler job.

Alison said...

Neil, I share your thoughts. I was thoroughly outraged when I saw the preliminary elementary school budget which came in at a 3.6% increase rather than the 2% increase that was requested. Was there complaint by the School Committee? Not that I could see. Yes, they did say that a 2% budget would be coming but seriously, why even waste time on a 3.6% budget? And, as you note, this was without any cuts in state aid. I keep waiting for things to change but have seen little yet.

Anonymous said...

Ed, people have been wondering about Ms. Zlogars "consulting" income for years.

Ed said...

For the record, I don't know the Zlogars. Nor how long Kay Zlogar was employed in the public system - the longer you are in, the better your pension.

But I find it interesting that she appears to be earning 2/3 of her initial salary as an '03' and more interesting that no one has raised this...

Anonymous said...

Well, if we're going to go there, what about our former town manager and school super working over in South Hadley? They aren't getting paid in peanuts.

LarryK4 said...

Yeah, Gus left the schools (under a cloud) at $104,000 and Barry rode out of town on a golf cart making $125,000.

Ed said...

Is it known that Gus 'n' Barry put in their retirement paperwork? Or did they just transfer it over to their new jobs, while remaining in the system?

The latter is legal and quite common.

LarryK4 said...

Probably the latter (smart birds feather their nests properly)

O'Reilly said...

Here's a thought. If you have objections to the way town employees work the system to get fat retirements, change the system. Calling them out individually if framing he problem in a light that will produce no change. It makes your concern seem personal and not systemic.

Alison, do you think the SB is not worried about 3.2% or even 8.2% or 13.2% because of the increased real estate tax revenue from increased home assessments? Someone should ask about the revenue numbers in the budget and what the assuptions are.