The Brentwood Ways and Means Committee discussed city employee compensation, salaries, and revenue from the ice rink and traffic fines, among other topics, as it worked toward approving the 2013 budget.
The committee met on Oct. 29, and didn't get to an approved budget in the meeting.
Alderwoman Maureen Saunders asked City Administrator Bola Akande why a three percent pay raise is recommended in the proposed budget.
“It’s what other communities are doing, it’s what we can afford, and we want to stay competitive.”
Akande said the cost to the city for a city-wide three percent raise would be $195,000, which could be paid, and still have money left over to add to the city’s reserve.
Alderman Andy Leahy said the raise should be reduced from three to one percent, which he said saves $65,000 per percentage point. He also suggested cutting back on comp time and overtime.
Alderman Tom Kramer said the employees would be happier if the city simply gave no raises, rather than cutting into sick leave and comp time.
“We are one of the best-compensated municipalities, and I don’t think you’re going to find an employee in our city now, who were told they would not have a raise this year that they would…jump ship.”
Leahy also suggested cutting salaries.
“If we’re going to do something, then the Board of Aldermen should pony up and set the example," he said. "Mrs. Saunders was successful in getting the health care removed, I was looking at the payroll.”
He said if the aldermen, mayor, judges, city attorney and others took a 25 to 33 percent pay cut, there would be a $22,000 savings.
Saunders wanted to know why ice rink program fees are down. Akande said the rink tried new programs this year that didn’t bring skaters in. She said they’re researching what people will be interested in.
Saunders said she is concerned about rink fees being down, and Akande had a reply.
“Fortunately for us, we’ve heard that another rink in another state (IL) is having problems, therefore we are aggressively recruiting their users,” Akande said. “Maybe they’d want to come here and skate.”
Saunders also asked Akande why revenue from traffic fines jumped from an estimated $460,000 in 2012, to $510,000 in the 2013 budget.
“We’ve never even hit the $500,000 mark,” she said, “so why do we think we’ll get there?”
Akande said 2008 was a high year for revenues from fines, and it’s gone down from then.
“Part of the conversation, when the board decided to add the officer in the budget last year, was that position would bring up to about $70,000.” She said that didn’t happen.
“The chief has communicated to his officers that we need to be actively working towards a goal,” Akande said. “Not that we have a quota, but that in general, that revenue needs to be what we indicated it would be.”
Saunders said the residents should know that traffic rules are going to be better enforced.
“I think we need to educate the public, otherwise we’re going to have a bunch of angry residents,” she said.
“This shouldn’t be a traffic stop for us to make our revenue on the backs of residents, although it’s the number one complaint that I receive,” she said.