- Raise parking fees in the center.
- Is there a grant writer in the city? Consider tapping one of the colleges for a graduate student intern to write grants...there is money out there.
- Are all public buildings being utilized for their full rental potential?
- Are we using local colleges and universities to our full potential? Can a full blown intern program be established to get some of the work done for college credit?
- I've noticed the bike path is now plowed in the winter, but we were fine before the plowing, and could not the money be better used to pay for a school teacher’s salary?
- Can we restructure the 4 elementary schools into 3...a PreK-2 school, a 3-4 and a 5-6? JFK could become a junior high again w/ grades 7-8. By consolidating the grades, I'm sure that we'd save money.
- If we have to close a school, wouldn't Bridge Street make a good Police Station location?
- Try to shift some offices within the city to revenue neutral of producing through increasing fees: ie parking should produce funds for the city, not cost revenue
- Every Department that receives payments, fines etc. should process these payments electronically instead of waiting for checks tp clear
- Save teachers, cut costs and don't raise taxes by closing Bridge St & Jackson St schools & bus kids to Ryan Rd & Leeds; then retrofit Bridge as new police station, saving millions.
The Mayor is looking at raising the price of parking tickets and fees in Northampton, wanting to balance the need to maintain a vibrant and accessible downtown, and not to price our town far above neighboring communities. It is important to remember, however, that parking revenues go into the Parking Reserve Fund, and not into the city's General Fund, and therefore would not impact the current budget gap.
Is there a grant writer in the city? Consider tapping one of the colleges for a graduate student intern to write grants...there is money out there.
A number of our departments regularly write grants. It is true, however, that many charitable granting organizations are also feeling the hit of lost investment interest and reduced levels of giving, so there is not an unlimited amount of money out there for municipalities. The difficulty with bringing in interns to write grants is that many of the questions on the grant application require a level of knowledge about city services, programs and plans that an intern coming in from the outside for a semester would not know. It would still require a high level of city staff time to bring that person up to speed, educate them about any technical aspects of the project, and review the application to make sure it is correct, a process unlikely to create any savings in the way we currently write grants.
Meeting spaces in city buildings are rented when there are no city boards or committees which need the meeting spaces first for city business. When outside groups use the buildings, they pay a fee to cover heat, electricity and custodial costs. I think we are pretty nearly maximized in the number of community groups that are interested in our facilities.
Are we using local colleges and universities to our full potential? Can a full blown intern program be established to get some of the work done for college credit?
Some city departments do use interns with regularity. They provide great assistance and the city is able to provide some real world experience to local students. One ongoing concern is that many projects and programs in the city don't fit neatly into semester-long timetables, so we are limited in what we can ask students to work on. Also, it would be a violation of our labor agreements to assign work to unpaid interns that would normally be assigned to our paid employees.
I've noticed the bike path is now plowed in the winter, but we were fine before the plowing, and could not the money be better used to pay for a school teacher’s salary?
The cost of clearing the bike path is very nominal. It takes one DPW worker one pass to clear the path, and they only do so after a storm (no overtime), and one pass of light sanding. If you add together staff time, equipment use and supplies, we estimate it costs about $300 - much, much less than would be useful to prevent any layoff. Moreover, in the time since we began plowing the path, we have more students using the bike path to get to school (we have moved to the minimum bus transportation requirements) and many more adults are using the bike path as a commuter route, an increasing number of them year-round. We could certainly cut that service, but the savings are so small as to call into question the possible safety concerns of having students and commuters traveling over ice or in the streets as opposed to the bike path.
Can we restructure the 4 elementary schools into 3...a PreK-2 school, a 3-4 and a 5-6? JFK could become a junior high again w/ grades 7-8. By consolidating the grades, I'm sure that we'd save money.
In addition to a thorough analysis on the cost savings such a move might realize, there are significant educational impacts which would need to be assessed. Increasing the number of school transitions that children in younger grades especially must make has a significant impact on their learning. Additionally, it makes it much more difficult for families to create a sense of community in any one school if they are not there long enough to make solid connections. One of the great strengths of our schools is the high level of commitment and community families feel there. We would risk losing volunteer, PTO and fundraising commitments we currently are so fortunate to have. We might also set up a situation where a family has one child who takes one bus to Leeds, another takes a different bus route to Bridge St and a third child walks to school at Jackson, a logistical headache every day, not to mention how to arrange class visits on Open House nights! Certainly, in these days nothing should be off the table, but the drastic nature of this kind of restructuring would require a great deal more research and public input and could not be implemented in time to address the FY2010 budget crisis.
The City is entering the last year of repayment on a bond for Bridge Street renovations, so through at least FY2010 we are required to use the building for educational purposes. Moreover, the building would require a full overhaul in order to be an appropriate location for a Police Station. It would be an immense construction project, and the same traffic concerns that are currently experienced during school hours would be 24/7 problems with an active police station.
Try to shift some offices within the city to revenue neutral of producing through increasing fees: ie parking should produce funds for the city, not cost revenue
The city has consolidated offices and functions over the last several years, and will continue to look for ways to do so. In the example in your question, we are already working in this way. The employees in the Parking Division's salaries are paid for by revenues generated from parking meter receipts, and not by tax dollars.
Every Department that receives payments, fines etc. should process these payments electronically instead of waiting for checks tp clear
We can currently take payment of property tax and motor vehicle excise tax and parking tickets online. It is important to note that the electronic payments are withdrawn from checking accounts and are not through credit cards. (We cannot take payments from credit cards because the credit card companies charge 3% - 5% of each transaction.) The City has been working with new technology which will allow for some expansion of the electronic payment program to permits and licenses. On a related note, at the last Department Head meeting, the Mayor asked them to encourage any employees who have not yet switched to direct deposit of their paychecks to consider doing so. Direct Deposit is a less expensive alternative, and is a safe and reliable way for employees to receive their checks. We have had positive response since this request went out.
Save teachers, cut costs and don't raise taxes by closing Bridge St & Jackson St schools & bus kids to Ryan Rd & Leeds; then retrofit Bridge as new police station, saving millions.
This is a complex suggestion, but the first sticking point would be that the City has one more year on a bond at Bridge St. School which requires the building to be used in some way for educational purposes for one more year, so it could not be closed and repurposed as a police station next year. Moreover, closing any schools is a complicated decision which requires a great deal of public process, and not something undertaken solely in response to a financial crisis. It is important to note that the City has so far engaged in design services for the proposed new Police Station, and has spent a great deal of money to closely study the best location for a Police Station. A central downtown location with very close access to the court buildings was judged to be the best possible location. To consider moving the proposed new station to a new location such as Bridge Street would require us to discard the plans and drawings already created and begin a new feasibility study and draw more plans. While everyone agrees (including the re-accreditation team that was here this month) that a new station is desperately needed, the City has not yet committed funds for the project. There is more information about why the proposed location was chosen over other downtown locations on the NPD website: www.northamptonma.gov/police