Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Proposed Ordinance #1383 - Justification?

At the April 7 Public Meeting around the 20'30" mark (feel free to take a look and listen below), the borough CFO steps to the microphone to provide expert testimony on the justification of raising the appropriations cap (ordinance #1383 starts on page 18). She indicates that the cap needs to be raised because the inflation rate last year exceeded 4%.

Sounds reasonable enough, except that the folks over at the United States Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics reported Consumer Price Index (CPI) for calendar year 2008 experienced a gain of 0.1%. Since the borough CFO explained that the appropriations included employee salaries, a look at the total compensation costs for calendar year 2008 experienced a gain of 2.4%.

At this point, readers are probably suspicious that this blog writer is using national data, which may not fully account for regional differences...

Fair enough.

Looking at the data published by the NY regional office, the CPI for NY-NNJ area in 2008 experienced a 1.6% gain. Total compensation costs for the NY Metro area increased 1.9% for 2008. The default appropriations cap of 2.5% (not requiring an ordinance) appears sufficiently adequate to cover these costs.

Consumable costs and staff compensation do not appear to justify raising the appropriations cap, leading to the question: Do our elected borough officials appear to be stimulating the economy (here and here) on the backs of borough taxpayers?

How about YES to banking any leftover appropriations and NO to raising the cap? If you feel perfectly comfortable with paying more taxes without apparent justification, DO NOT call your councilperson and DO NOT attend the borough hall meeting Wednesday evening. Your silence will ensure that this public-reviewed tax increase will be adopted.