Some fiscal ideas for Trenton

Facing severe budget problems that could means consecutive double-digit tax increases for Trenton property owners, officials on City Council and in the Douglas H. Palmer administration ought to start thinking out of the box to develop ways to eliminate, or at least reduce the expected tax increase.

An obvious place to start – this very week – is to vote down any cockamamie schemes to purchase $200,000 worth of new weapons for the Trenton Police Department, when the current gun supplier has offered to replace all of the department’s weapons, free of charge.

People in the City Clerk’s office today said the resolution still remained off tonight’s agenda, but they also warned that administration officials do have a way of blindsiding the rest of the city government with last-minute additions to the council agenda. Given the fact that Councilman Milford Bethea is expected to be absent from council tonight, it is likely that the gun resolution could make an appearance.

Regarding more long-term budget issues, it should be recognized that fully 70 percent of all the monies in all the budgets in New Jersey are required because of personnel costs.

Given that, it is time to determine which governmental positions are not absolutely needed, and begin layoff proceedings, early retirement, or whatever else can be done to cut significant dollars off the budget of Trenton’s bloated municipal edifice.

If forced to do so, Mayor Palmer will likely want to cut lower-ranking positions, given his tendency to recklessly pursue those kinds of employees for residency violations while generally looking the other way when it comes to higher-ranking support employees who break residency rules.

But City Council could use its budget power to make sure the axe falls where it will make the most difference, and that’s on a handful of high-ranking and unnecessary administrative support positions.

They are a good target, considering that they only exist because of frequent absences of Trenton’s mayor, usually off stumping for Hillary Clinton or doing things with U.S. Conference of Mayors. The removal of just one of these high-paid officials could allow the same savings as cutting five lower ranking, and more useful workers.

Not only would Trenton be better served by having Mayor Palmer here, in Trenton, tackling Trenton’s problems, but its residents would also benefit by not being forced to foot the bill for all of Mayor Palmer’s aides, drivers, and high-ranking officials whose positions exist solely because of the mayor’s frequent absences from his hometown.

There are a multitude of ways this city would be better off, by simply having its five-term executive actually spend some time here. Maybe its time to start forcing him to do so, with some well-executed cuts and slashes.

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