"The Official Portrait of Miss InDiana"

"The Official Portrait of Miss InDiana"
aka "Miss Victory"

Thursday, February 14, 2008

MAYORS AND BUDGETS -- Q: Can Hammond cut its budget and save essential services?


There has been a great deal of talk concerning upcoming budget shortfalls. Mayors from different cities mention that their local governments will lose millions of dollars and as a result will have to cut services.

Hammond Mayor Thomas McDermott Jr. has said there is no way his city can shed $21 million overnight without affecting police and fire protection.

As a homeowner in Hammond, I am deeply concerned. What will happen to the police and fire protection? Will we have enough police and firemen?

I took my car and headed to Hammond City Hall where I picked up a copy of the City Budget. The budget has eight sections and there is a bunch of numbers. So I started at the beginning. There is a Budget estimate page with fund names, such as a General Fund, Debt Service Fund, Fire Pension, Police Pension, and so on. Each of these funds included a dollar amount. The total dollar amount for the budget is $109,988,393.00 for the 2008 budget. That sure is a lot of money; I had to double check the amount so I added all those numbers. When I totaled the numbers I was shocked to find that the real amount is $110,184,213.00. I added those numbers again, and again, I arrived at $110,184,213.00.
The Budget didn’t add up.

I started to get more curious about this budget. I looked at every page and as I went through the budget, questions started to pop up. Where are the take-home cars? I know there are over 90 take-home cars, but they aren’t in the budget. What about gas for vehicles; that isn’t in the budget. The self-insurance fund is not listed in the budget. The Mayor has a photographer, and the Mayor has a television show. Where are all these items? In fact, I counted 25 City Departments and Funds that were not included in the budget. Again, the budget didn’t add up.

Now the question is, how are these departments funded, and what are the true costs?
I turned to the State Board of Accounts, and they sent me a financial report for the City of Hammond. It is called the Annual City and Town Financial Report. The report that I received is for the Fiscal Year ending December 31, 2006.

There are 13 parts to this Financial Report. I turned to Part 1-Statement of Receipts, Disbursements, Cash Balances & Investment Balances. I discovered the City of Hammond had Receipts of $195,443,208.70 for the year ending 2006.

The Budget for 2008 shows a Budget total of $109,988,393.00, but Hammond has Receipts over $195,443,208.70. This is a difference of 85 million dollars.
The Budget again didn’t add up.

Hammond Mayor Thomas McDermott Jr. has said there’s no way his city can shed $21 million overnight without affecting police and fire protection.

Where did the Mayor of Hammond get the money for the following items?
1) $13,000,000 for a Clubhouse for a Golf Course
2) Yes, the Mayor of the City of Hammond has a Golf Course: Lost Marsh Golf Course. The cost to operate is close to $2,000,000 per year.
3) $55,000 for the Mayor’s photographer
4) $900,000 Commission for the Mayor’s father in the Cabela’s store deal
5) $100,000 to Purdue University for an endowment for the Mayor’s father.
6) $1,500 for health care per employee per month for City Departments
7) $432,192 for Festival of the Lakes.
8) $250,000 for a legal aid clinic
9) $65,000 for campaign workers
10) $10,000,000 in raises since the 2005 budget. In fact some employees received $15,000 dollar raises for this year (Fire Chief & Police Chief).
11) The Mayor’s salary is $95,000 per year. The Governor’s salary is also $95,000.
12) There are a total of 9 Pages of Financial Assistance to Nongovernmental Entities as listed in the Annual City and Town Financial Report of 2006. Here are some items from that list.
a) $50,500 Hammond YMCA
b) $60,000 Running Rebels
c) $70,000 Parents as Teachers of Hammond
d) $350,000 St. Margaret Mercy
e) $20,000 The Laura Austin Passimore Guild
f) $40,300 Towle Community Theatre
g) $50,000 United Neighborhood Inc.

Can Hammond shed $21 million dollars from their budget and save the Police and Fire departments?

What do you think?


Anonymous said...

The Democratic crooked fiefdom is in full force-don't rock the boat. They still haven't recovered from the lease of the tollroad which took away the major skim, scam of all time. Counting -One for me, one for you....

Anonymous said...

We sure would not want you to actually read the Indiana Commission on Local Government Reform's "Streamlineing Local Government". It is otherwise known as the Kernan Shepard Commission Report. It is, actually, a bi partisan crock of "make smoke so they look the other way" typical garbage. There is more detail in your parsing of one City Budget. The Indianapolis Budget is, I hope, getting similar.

Anonymous said...

The fact that you can't make those numbers match doesn't really mean anything.

Year end expenses and receipts are often greater than budget for a variety of reasons. A big part of this is short term borrowing. You will see the money going in and out as tax warrants are taken out and then paid back when the actual property tax dollars come in. Expense and receipt totals will also include transfers.