In an open letter, Mayor Dick Gleason has asked Auburn residents to "demand" of city councilors that the proposed city budget cuts be restored.
The letter was e-mailed to members of the community and the media in response to the Auburn City Council's request of City Manager Glenn Aho to cut one million dollars from the city's 2010-2011 fiscal budget.
The letter reads as follows:
An open letter to the citizens of Auburn:
Nearly two years ago, Glenn Aho was hired to be the Chief Operating Officer of our city. He came to us with many years of experience, a solid education and excellent references.
Working with staff, he spent months preparing the budget. He was pleased to announce that, if it were not for state revenue sharing shortfalls, the Auburn tax rate would have in fact, dropped again.
That, in itself, is a remarkable accomplishment. Instead of congratulating and thanking him, the Auburn City Council voted to direct the city manager to cut one million dollars from his proposed budget.
It turns out that no matter what he proposes, it will create what is known as a "domino effect" which is a chain reaction that occurs when a small change causes a similar change nearby, which then will cause another similar change, and so on in linear sequence.
Here are some examples of the "domino effect" of proposed cuts:
1. Drop the School Resource Officer program: What we save in dropping this will be offset by spending more in juvenile arrests, court time, and social costs
2. Halt Capital Projects: We would realize short term financial benefits by saddling long term financial burdens upon future councils—and that burden will be felt as soon as next year.
3. Reduce snow plowing overnight: By reducing our overnight plowing it could increase school cancellations, extend the school year, and have labor contract ramifications.
4. Stop funding special events: We could save money by not funding the Balloon Festival, Liberty Festival, Dempsey Challenge, but we lose in terms of community spirit and community building.
5. Labor reduction: We save personnel costs but are losing hours of service to our citizens. For example, we will only have the Clerk’s office open in the afternoons. We unilaterally reduce non-union wages at the risk of having them unionize and only cost the City more money in the long run in terms of contract administration and legal costs.
Interestingly, this million dollar cut from the proposed budget would only save the average homeowner less than $150 for the year, but the long term effect could be much more expensive.
This Tuesday night will be our final city council meeting before final budget decisions. I am asking Auburn citizens to demand that the original proposed budget be restored. They can start by calling or emailing the city councilors. Their contact information is available at AuburnMaine.org
Second, concerned citizens should attend the meeting in Auburn Hall this Tuesday, April 20 at 7pm.
Now is the time to keep from dropping our fine city to its knees.
Dick Gleason, Mayor
City of Auburn, Maine
Mayor's office: (207) 333-6601 x 1216
Business office: (207) 784-5868