Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Hannon's Fuzzy Math

“In politics stupidity is not a handicap.” - Napoleon Bonaparte

The Fire Starter was fascinated by Mayor Hannon's
mathematical prowess.  He magically transformed a 1.72% tax hike into a 3.6%  tax hike.  All without even changing a comma.  What was even more fascinating was his explanation of the error.  Hannon claims to have misread the budget summary.  In order to increase revenue 1.72%, the taxes need to be raised 3.6%.  This is due to decreased taxable property largely due to Hannon's inept handling of economic development.  Instead of pursuing enemies real and imagined and playing policeman while "patrolling" the Village, Hannon should be focusing on economic development.  Unfortunately, his priorities lie elsewhere.

In addition, a review of the budget reveals that it is a wish list rather than a serious budgetary document.  The Johnson City Police remain without a contract and are five years behind.  Although they are likely to receive at least two years of retroactive raises, this was not budgeted for.  The laid off fire fighters could be ordered rehired and re-payed several years of back pay.  But this was not budgeted for.  These are substantial liabilities that are not reflected in the budget.  One can imagine that Hannon will blame any shortfall on the police or the firemen should these unbudgeted liabilities become realities.

But Hannon has not shown himself to have a great facility with numbers.  He claimed that manpower reductions in the fire department would not effect service.  However, since the first of the year, the Floral Avenue fire station has been CLOSED over 13 times. This substantially increased response times to the southside of Johnson City. 

Medical call responses have also been greatly hindered as a result of staffing cuts.  Since the first of the year, the Johnson City has lacked sufficient personnel to respond to over 100 medical calls ranging from mid priority to life threatening situations.  Citizens facing a battle for their life have been left to wait for the response of more remote responders.

Perhaps the most shocking aspect of Hannon's budget is the apparent budgeted pay increase of approximately 5% for Joint Fire Administrator Hrustich.  He is already the third or fourth highest paid civil servant in Broome County.  He makes 25% more than the chief of the Binghamton Fire Department who commands twice as many firefighters.  Yet Hannon feels the need to shore up his chief toady (or is that toady Chief?).  All at the expense of Johnson City residents.

At a time when Hannon is laying off fire fighters, there seems to be no shortage of funds for his hatchet men and "friends".  Big raises for the part time Joint Fire Administrator who is already overpaid. Big raises for Hannon's office staff, and big raises for the lawyers. 

The purpose of government is to provide services, not reward friends and allies.  Hannon has long since lost sight of this.  And we are left waiting for emergency services.

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