Where’s Waldo’s salary?
Our local headline just a few days ago was the third article on city recycling in the past few months. Within each of the three the articles was a claim that the city’s first year start up cost was less than expected. But, based on figures provided from the city itself on 6/6/12, that claim appears to be very misleading. I don’t fault the newspaper since I’m sure they went with what the city told them, but I think the city owes the public an explanation since this thrice repeated claim may not be accurate.
When the whole recycling issue originated early last year, it was controversial and was debated until finally approved close to mid year. During this process the public was shown projections of first year start up costs and those projections included $35K for one new employee to drive the truck. The projections were adjusted a time or two and ended up around $413K (including the $35K salary).
It seems strange to me but the budget adopted in 6/11 provided only $399K for start up costs. Upon my request the city told me recently that the actual start up cost was $389K, which looks under budget. So far so good? No, because neither figure includes the new salary. That $35K salary is now just mixed in with overall city personnel expense. When that is added to the project as was promised, the start up cost is $35K over both the budgeted amount and the actual cost. Moreover, from another article in the paper a couple months back, the city is trying to get a grant to improve the transfer point and loading dock. The city’s part would be $10K , which would run up the total costs even more … . and is our six month old transfer site already in need of a grant to improve it?
The city’s claim that this project came in under budget is only possible if we don’t count the required $35K salary item and put that in with all other personnel expense. That is very misleading since the public was told that salary was to be in the first year’s expense all along. Excluding it now reminds me of an old shell game, and is unfair to taxpayers who have been following this issue.
I’d like to see the city set the record straight on this matter. The public deserves straight and clear information from all of our government entities.