Speakers back police in schools

AUBURN — Of all the city services on the budgetary chopping block, retaining police officers in the city's schools had the most support in Auburn Hall on Tuesday night.

Auburn City Council
Amber Waterman/Sun Journal

Mayor Richard Gleason reminds city Councilor Michael Farrell, left, that the open session portion of the council agenda is for the public to speak. The comment was made at Tuesday night's council meeting.

Auburn City Council
Amber Waterman/Sun Journal

Mayor Richard Gleason, left, Councilor David Young, center, and Councilor Ray Berube listen to Kathy Shaw, owner and operator of Valley View Farms in Auburn, urge the council to cut spending and not increase taxes during the City Council meeting Tuesday night.

Auburn City Council
Amber Waterman/Sun Journal

"What I want now is a city safe for my child," said Laurie Tannenbaum after Auburn City Councilor Michael Farrell challenged her to "open up her wallet" to pay for the services she supported, like the School Resource Officer. The comments were made at Tuesday night's meeting of the council.

Auburn City Council
Amber Waterman/Sun Journal

Melissa Robbins shared stories of severe bullying of her children in the Auburn school system, and she fears it would worsen if the City Council cuts the school resource officer from the 2010-2011 budget. She spoke at Tuesday night's council meeting.

Auburn City Council
Amber Waterman/Sun Journal

Kathy Shaw, owner and operator of Valley View Farms in Auburn, urges the Auburn City Council to cut spending and not increase taxes during the council's meeting Tuesday night.

"If you pull the resource officers out of Auburn's schools, how will you guarantee that my children will be safe? Because, you can't," Melissa Robbins of 106 Western Ave. told City Councilors.

Robbins was one of 30 people who attended the special meeting to comment on the city's proposed budget.

Some said they supported budget cuts while others said they understood that taxes would have to increase.

"I think we all have to tighten our belts this year," said Laurie Tannenbaum of Lake Street. "But I'm afraid that these cuts, and this effort to save money will cause the city actual harm."

Councilors are reviewing a proposed budget calling for $30.9 million in spending in the next fiscal year, a 3 percent increase over the current budget. Coupled with cuts of $2.7 million in state revenues coming to the city, it would mean a 9 percent increase in property taxes and a $288 property tax increase for homes valued at $171,000.

Councilors need to find either $3.5 million in new revenues or cut $3.5 million from the budget to keep taxes from rising at all. Councilors directed City Manager Glenn Aho to find at least $1 million in cuts.

Aho unveiled a slate of cuts last week that trim $1.12 million from the budget. Those included less snow plowing, no lifeguard at the Lake Auburn outlet beach and a single polling place for voters. It also cuts the city's share of support for the Fourth of July fireworks and closes city offices two hours early every Friday. That alone would save the city $224,576.

Aho's cuts also do away with school resource officers, absorbing them back into the regular police patrol to cover sick time and overtime. It would save an estimated $25,000.

In an open letter to Auburn citizens sent to city councilors, news and radio stations Friday, Mayor Dick Gleason urged councilors to pass the budget as first presented, reinstating the proposed cuts. He also urged Auburn residents to attend Tuesday's meeting.

Many did, and several spoke. Most favored keeping the resource officers in the schools.

"I wish that we had those officers in the schools when I was there, or when my children were there," said Larry Pelletier of 129 Second St. "I have two sons that are incarcerated now. If those officers were there, I think things might have turned out differently."

But Kathy Shaw of 1200 Sopers Mill Road argued for the cuts, and applauded councilors for considering the $1 million in cuts.

"I know plenty of people in this city that have already tightened their belts," she said. "We already work long hours, we can't afford insurance. Our budget does not have room in it. I have to pay my property taxes monthly now, and some months its a concern. Will I be able to make it? I don't know."

Aho said councilors will continue budget discussions at Monday's meeting, and he asked for them to rate the individual line item in his $1.1 million proposed cuts.

"That would give me some feedback, an idea of where we are going and what we need to do next," Aho said. But councilors wouldn't agree to that.

"I think maybe we should flip that around," Mayor Gleason said. "I think maybe you should give us feedback, tell us how each of those items will affect city operations."

staylor@sunjournal.com

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Comments

 's picture

Norm' I do agree with our

Norm' I do agree with our remarks regarding the 'Fire Dept' did you know that some of the Firefighters also have second Job's which although not wrong it points out to me that the Fire Dept is all about building ones resume while taking advantage ofr a Liberal Insurance Package'

 

The Insurance benefit package for some City wokers is much better than most in today's World can afford' When the Decision is made to begin to Align that issue into todays reality, is when substansial progress is made. I have felt that for too many years Spending in Auburn has gone way out of Control.

 

One does not have to stray very far to see what I am speaking about.The Educational Lifestyle of Entitlement is Baseed upon the Earning Capacity of a Work environment from 30 to 50 years ago. The Pre NAFTA Days.

 's picture

Norm; You make make good

Norm; You make make good Points. You seem to really have a Sincere sense of concern for Your Community which is most 'Admirable.You have every right to be frustrated with the Mayor. I happen to see things differently. The Behavior of the City councilas a whole has been Lackluster' I strongly feel that the Actions of Farrel &Herrick & Berube has undermined the general Well being of the Community.'

'Councilor Farrell' has demonstrated time after Time that he is unable to Listen to reason and his self centered Actions have placed the Entire Community into 'Jeopardy' not to mention that his Behavior towards Citizens who disagree with him has been most Undesirable' Norm understand that when John Jenkins was Mayor it was a 'Free for all' and Mayor Gleason is providing the leadership that the Majority of Auburn Taxpayers want.

It is time to reign in these 'Interlopers and from what I have seen of this 'Mayor he is the right Guy for the Job'

 's picture

Agree to disagree then?

Though I certainly don't find the council to be perfect and I often don't agree with them, I have found myself more or less aligned with the overarching goal of tax reduction that they voted on.

And, respectfully, you and I will simply have to disagree on the mayor's leadership ability. But, for the record, Mayor Jenkins seemed more understanding of the problems that face our community. I didn't agree with everything he did, for example, the "one penny too many" idea of helping everyone out was more than I wanted to pay for, but I did respect him for his onslaught of new ideas and the way he seemed to take an interest in the people. Again, we must agree to disagree.

 's picture

Ginger" Since you seem to

Ginger" Since you seem to know a bit about the City Employees who have city provided Cars' could you please 'Enlighten some of us as to Whom they are ?Thanks I alwas am interested in knowing the Facts and it seems as though you know some Facts don't you Ginger?

 's picture

Norm what Planet are you

Norm what Planet are you living on? Second it seems as though each time you Post you are very Negative. Why  wouldn't Dick Gleason speak up? It is time to find a candidate that can vote Farrell out of office' Farrell is a Control freak who is in it for his own image purely his own image' He lost the Battle in the Court of Public Opinion' and Mayor Gleason is an Old Hand when it comes to dispatching the Likes of Council Farrell.

 

Councilor Farrell should do the right thing and Publicly  apologize to Laurie Tannabaum' Now would 'Uncle' advise him of that or would 'Uncle' need to confer with the 'Governor'?

 's picture

Do you really think so?

I attend most of the council meetings. I have offered suggestion after suggestion to the council both publicly and in calls to my councilor. I have tried to be supportive of Mr Aho and the councilors. I was even supportive of the mayor until his open letter last week which, again, I think completely undermined the credibility of the council.

I have not come on this forum and simply whined and called people outrageous names. I have cited the budget documents and tried to back up each of my opinions with clear cut facts and figures from the public writings of the city of Auburn.

Simply because I am frustrated with the mayor doesn't mean I am negative. I meet people everyday who cannot afford a tax increase. If you couple a tax increase with the reduction in the Homestead Exemption, it is a double whammy taxpayers in this community.

Some may think I am negative about the fire department, but I'm not. I am a realist. The fire department is, in comparison to need, wholely oversized. Each firefighter works 8 days a month and sleeps on the clock. I don't think we should be paying people to sleep when there are people in the community who can't pay their taxes. Last year there were about 25 homes in the city who had tax liens placed on them. These people didn't simply decide to screw the city and not pay taxes. Some obviously were caused by illness or divorce or whatever, but some were caused simply because the taxes are too high to pay. And it is only going to get worse.

As for the RSO's and other cuts, I personally feel the people in charge are using these cuts as lightning rods. By that I mean they are using the cuts that most citizens don't want to happen so it sends a huge charge through the citizenry. The impulse then is that we are in dire straits and cannot possibly cut anymore. If we are down to cutting THIS, then we must really be down to bare bones. It is an old tactic and it simply isn't true. I find it difficult to believe the police chief can't find $25,000 of bloat that he could cut. But that wouldn't raise eyebrows or concern. This way he can say he made the cut that was asked of him and did his job while at the same time buffeting himself against any more cuts. I'm not saying that is wrong or deceitful in anyway, I'm just saying it is the politically savvy thing to do. If I were he, I would do the same.

 's picture

If you wake up...

then you were asleep. According to the weekly report of 3/19/2010 a firefighter works a 24 hour shift and has three 24 hour shifts off. Therefore, he (I'm not sure if there are any shes) works 8 days a month. According to the same weekly report, he is "active" 14 hours of that shift, unless a call comes in. So, in fact, we are paying for 10 hours of inactivity per shift. Multiply it out to 80 hours per month - or two full working weeks for the average Auburn citizen. We are paying Auburn firefighters two weeks a month to sit and watch tv, read a book, or wait to wake up. If, further, you multiply that out, firefighters are paid for 960 hours a year to be idle and wait for an emergency call. That equates to 24 weeks of average Auburn citizens work weeks.

I'm not sure I get the bad weather argument in that the firefighters are in the firehouse unless there is a call. And if there is a call, they have turnout gear on - which I assume is waterproof. But, they will likely be getting wet if there is a fire.

According to the budget, there are 12 different classifications for overtime. These cover most every situation from meetings that occur during a firefighters off time to funerals to sickness to vacation replacement. I would hope that a firefighter could find another to grab some overtime and take that person's place if they wish to attend a child's birthday or school event. The city has also budgeted nearly $128,000 to cover holiday pay. I might add that Monday was Patriot's day and the city was off, but the vast majority of private businesses were open and fully staffed. I would venture to guess very few of them received holiday pay.

So, if the firefighters are not happy with the 24 hour shifts, I would suggest changing them to a standard shift work like the police or other operations that work 24 hours work. And, honestly, if the firefighters are that unhappy with working 8 days a month, they always have the option of leaving and doing something that makes them more satisfied.

And finally, if my arguments are old, you don't have to read them. But, honestly, the facts are right there in the budget and the various reports the city puts out.

 's picture

Sorry friznow for being flip

I want to apologize for my flip comment about you not having to read my posts if they are old to you. That was not called for and I apologize. I sincerely appreciate you reading them and offering your counterpoints. That is the only way we can hope to inform anyone who cares to listen about the facts as we see them.

I'm not sure how they do it in other communities as I've only talked with 15 or so firefighters from other locations to have something to compare to Auburn's system. I only know what I read in the reports and budget documents.

Again, I'm sorry for my remark.

 's picture

Right wing wacko?

Tron, do you actually listen to yourself? Councilor Farrell was, as he does from time to time, suggesting the lady write out a check to the city like she stated she would be willing to do. Several members of the community last night and on previous evenings have stated they would be willing to pay extra to get the "essential" services they want. Councilor Farrell was asking that she do so.

Lots of people last night said they will pay the extra taxes. My point is and has been that some in our city don't have the luxury of even being able to write a check for extra taxes. Many in our community have lost their jobs or are just barely getting by. The last thing most of us need right now is extra expenses. The city council heard those pleas and voted to reduce the budget by one million. Also, I heard lots of people say I don't want that cut or I will pay extra, but no one suggested any other cuts or other efficiencies.

Surely there are some positive ideas out there for saving this city some money.

 's picture

what the...?

Why is it that the little man is always the one to get threatened with stuff such as tax increases or cut programs.  Maybe some of these more well to do people who find and get every little loop hole in thier taxes dig a little deeper and pay taxes at the level that we do.  As usual, the old saying applies... "the rich get richer as the poor get poorer"  meanwhile my budget gets tighter and harder to pay while businesses and richer people pay less in state and federal taxes due to tax exemptions and rightoffs that aren't available to the average joe.   Open those rich wallets and help out.  After all, this money does eventually tricket down to the cities.  I pay well over my fair share of taxes and I still suffer the cuts.  When is enough, enough.  Welcome to taxation land.

 

 's picture

Marooned

So, cutting the budgets and resource officers who help the schools function and improve community relations between departments and schools makes sense?  Let me get this straight when others want a vested interest in that function it becomes a worthless function.  This is not an underwater basket weaving project or process this is keeping a function between police departments and school departments for a strong inter-working basis within the school departments.

 's picture

????

Mr. Pellitier-  When was it the schools responsibility to raise your kids to stay out of jail?  Don't you think that you should have helped more than you did?  The schools need to cut out some of their "underwater basket weaving" projects and keep critical needs onboard until the budget improves.

 's picture

Giving feedback

Sounds to me the COUNCILORS wants the Mayor out on the limb by himself. They don't even have brass enough to help the situation. I would be real proud of them if I lived in that city.Thank God I don't. People lick out your counsilors and find some that will accept responsibility.

 's picture

Listen again...

I'm dumbfounded as to why it sounds to you like the councilors want the mayor out on a limb by himself. If he is in fact there, it is of his own volition. The mayor sent out an open letter to the public last week asking them to demand their councilors change their vote and rescind the order to reduce the city budget by $1,000,000. The vote was taken with all due diligence through the proper channels and it passed. Then the mayor tries to embarrass the council into folding and allowing our taxes to rise even higher. The mayor has not once questioned anything in the budget. He has not, to the best of my recollection, made any suggestions of a more efficient or better way to provide services to the public. All he has done is undermine the authority and credibility of the city council by trying to play politics.

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