Trenton residents were greeted in the newspapers Tuesday with stories featuring the brushing off of good fiscal arguments and childish taunting by some city officials, over what they saw as a botched attack on one of the Palmer administration’s highest positions.
What really went on was that members of the Trenton Residents Action Coalition – including me – engaged in a governmental study last week. The group decided that the city’s current municipal vehicle fleet and the chief of staff, among other executive positions, represented unnecessary burdens on the city’s taxpayers.
With the city’s fiscal woes and the looming library closures in mind, TRAC correctly concluded that these areas were the best places to make cuts in the budget to free up money and help plug holes in the city’s budget.
But the group incorrectly determined that the chief of staff position used in the administration under Mayor Douglas H. Palmer was unauthorized by the state law governing Trenton’s form of government, and issued a public statement calling on the city to examine the position, based both on its fiscal burden and apparent unlawfulness.
Sadly, it was determined after the statement’s release that an obscure provision in state law did provide the option for such a position, however unnecessary it may be for the operation of Trenton’s government. TRAC, represented by attorney and member George Dougherty, retracted the statement and apologized for the error.
But despite the group’s mistakes and the taunts of the Palmer administration, the city’s fiscal situation remains the same, and so does the resolve of TRAC.
Trenton must get its fiscal house in order, and that starts with the cutting of instances of administrative fat, like the municipal car fleet and the unnecessary, however legal chief of staff position.
Trenton can no longer afford these luxuries, especially when they come in the form of taxpayer-funded transportation or optional, generously compensated chiefs of staff. This city is not what it used to be, and the size of the city government needs to come back to realistic proportions.
*Let’s not forget how many mistakes the Palmer administration has made, without so much as a peep or an apology to Trenton and the residents who so often find themselves on the hook: Manex, Performa, Champale, Full Spectrum, Santiago, Colicelli, Messina, Bradley, the libraries, the Trenton Water Works deal, the budget, supporting Clinton, residency…feel free to add more in the comments section.