The city’s governing body approved $600,000 in budget transfers by moving funds from the offices of the city council, the municipal clerk, and the law department to boost the workers compensation budget.
The transfer increased the workers compensation line item by 11-percent. The city originally budgeted $5.44 million in its fiscal year 2016 budget. The transfers increases the workers compensation budget to $6 million.
“We just want to make sure we have enough funds in our workers compensation [budget] to pay for any additional estimated claims for the balance of the year,” said business administrator Nellie Pou on Wednesday night.
The transfer took funds from the city council office, the city clerk’s office, the personnel department, tax assessor’s office, revenue collection, and the law department, according to city records.
$140,000 was transferred from the city council’s office and another $180,000 from the city clerk’s office.
City clerk Sonia Gordon said her office is in dire need of staff. “I’m very very short staffed. I just lost another secretary,” she said.
Council president William McKoy pointed out he shares a secretary with freshman councilman Michael Jackson.
“Typically that would not be the case,” said McKoy. “It makes it difficult for us to get our job done when our secretaries have to rob from Peter to pay Paul.”
Gordon said she made requests to fill vacant positions at the city council and the clerk’s offices.
McKoy urged the business administrator to ensure the city council and the clerk’s offices are properly staffed in the next fiscal year which begins on July 1st, 2016.
In the most recent election, 3rd Ward council candidate Flavio Rivera hammered McKoy and other city officials for having overstated budget line items, which forced tax increases on homeowners.
Rivera pointed to the “overstated” line items in city council office and the law department. Kenneth Morris, councilman at-large, chairman of the council’s finance committee, pointed to the city’s practice of including vacant posts in the budget to hold funds that are later transferred elsewhere.
“If we’re not going to fill those positions then we shouldn’t budget for them,” said Morris.
Council members also approved transferring $400,000 to the public works solid waste division.