2009-07-01 / Editorial

Déjà vu — Mohan overreacts, doesn't take responsibility

Let's say, for the sake of argument, Town of Amherst employees could legally give back 3 percent of their salaries to help the expected revenue shortfall.

Should they? We don't think so. Say what you will about government jobs, benefits, vacation time, holiday pay, overtime allowance or other perks, that is not the issue at hand. It is who should be responsible if the proposed $2 million revenue shortfall comes to fruition?

We believe it is Supervisor Satish Mohan and the board members who approved a budget with the ambitious revenue totals. They need to fix the problem — should there be one.

During the Oct. 6, 2008, work session Comptroller Darlene Carroll told the board, "Revenues seem to be overestimated." She shouldn't have to repair the problem with a portion of her salary because as a fiscal watchdog she did her job.

The highway worker probably clearing leaves from a drain shouldn't have to give back either. Museum employees preparing for the trick-or-treat event also should owe nothing.

They are going about their day, doing what they are paid to do. Mohan was not. He is paid to prepare a smart budget, and if the town's revenues come up short, then he failed at his task. Not because we expect him to be a mind reader but because the comptroller warned him against ambitious revenue estimates and because the recession writing was on the wall.

During the same October meeting, Mohan refused to allow Carroll to present her review of the tentative budget or to make her remarks. Council Member Guy Marlette accused Mohan of attempting to hide something in the budget. Could this be it?

Mohan is absolutely 100 percent wrong to try and back away from this problem. The budget is not what he planned for, so he needs to fix it, without asking others to pay for his mistake.

When he campaigned, Mohan said he would work for $1, so for starters, let's have him pay back the $300,000 he has been paid to date. Mohan said he retracted that statement because after looking at his finances, he realized he needed to be paid the $75,000 annual salary. Maybe someone who doesn't "realize" he needs $75,000 shouldn't have been handling a $115 million budget.

Is he not truthful or just uninformed?

As this problem develops, we ask the board to continue to keep the issue in check and not overreact. If we can all recall, in spring 2006 when the board debated a projected $4 million deficit, the issue was handled poorly.

We ask Mohan to finally learn from his mistakes.

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