Budget Testimony on April 6, 2011 – Max Bronstein

Budget Testimony on April 6, 2011; 1:30 p.m. session

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Budget Testimony on April 6, 2011 ; 1:30 p.m. session—

Max Bronstein, speaking as an individual.

As to the budget proposed, I generally support the County Executive’s recommendations.  Additionally, I support the changes proposed by the Organizational Reform Commission as they would bring about greater long-term savings.

I feel that the Criminal Justice Coordinating Commission’s executive directorship should be abolished.  There is ample ability resident in the police department and in the State’s Attorney’s Office to handle any coordination needed.

Regarding policies and politics:

Some members of the current council have been in office for 8+ years; some for 4+ years; one for 2 years; and some for several months.  While the current recession began in 2007, Marvin Wineman, then president of the Taxpayer’s League, repeatedly cautioned the council beginning prior to 2007, that their fiscal policies were unsustainable.  He was ignored, and the council now finds itself in the serious financial bind against which he warned.

We all know there are financial problems existing outside the county that affect our situation.  However, had the council heeded Marvin Wineman’s warnings early on, we would not be in anywhere near as serious a financial situation as we are now.

Accordingly, I strongly urge the council to engage an outside firm of economists to serve as their “financial early warning system” which would report every 6 months as to any financial problems they foresee for the county.

Also, using one version of the “golden rule” as a guide, I submit that the organization that supplies the gold should make the rules.  Since 57% of the county’s budget goes to finance the schools to the tune of $2.2 billion, the council should have oversight over the school system’s budget.  As a county, we should not in the future have to contend with a school superintendent and a school board that accept the county’s $2.2 billion and then become the county’s adversaries.  Legislation needs to be put in place that makes that oversight a reality.  I realize that effort will be very challenging, but the achievement would be well worth the battle.

To the county’s valued public servants, I suggest cooperation, patience, and understanding.  After all, with 80% of the county’s expenditures going to pay employee’s, to attempt to extract more than the county can afford is a self-defeating endeavor.

To the county’s residents, I cannot emphasize enough, GET INVOLVED.  Let the county’s leaders hear from you.  If you don’t think your elected officials are doing a good job of handling your money and running the county, don’t reelect them.  If you feel they are doing a good job, do reelect them.

Remember, the most important office in our democracy is that of private citizen.

Thank you.