Weekly Feature

2005-10-19 / Local News

Mohan outlines his 2006 budget proposal

Amherst Politics
by VICTORIA R. SPAGNOLI Associate Editor

The Town of Amherst can save nearly $11 million by reducing spending in areas such as consultants and contract work, and by completely cutting items like vacation buyback, according to one candidate.

Satish Mohan, Republican candidate for supervisor, recently outlined what his proposed 2006 budget would look like if he was leading the town.

Mohan, a civil engineer and professor at the State University of New York at Buffalo, said he can reduce the overall budget by 10 percent, thereby cutting the tax levy by 15 percent.

Supervisor Susan Grelick on September 30 presented her $108 million tentative budget, which included a nearly 2 percent decrease in the general fund tax rate and a 2 percent decrease in special districts.

However, it also included a 1.9 percent increase in spending and a $1.1 million increase in the tax levy for the overall town budget.

The total town budget includes the general fund; the part town fund — outside village; the community environmental fund; the Highway fund — town outside village; the fire protection fund; and four special district funds.

In Mohan’s proposed budget, the biggest cut will come from the consulting and contract work item line. Mohan said he can reduce that by $4.39 million, or 40 percent, just by using the expertise of current town employees. Doing work in-house can reduce that line item from $10.98 million in 2005 to about $6.6 million in 2006.

“We can use (employees) more effectively,” Mohan said of the employees. “We do not have to have consultants except for large projects.”

Using employees in a more effective manner also factors into Mohan’s decision to reduce overtime and part-time work by 50 percent.

He said by scheduling workers more effectively, overtime can be cut by about $590,000 and part-time work by $1.28 million. He proposes that employees be scheduled on shifts, including evenings, in order to cut down on the costs.

Mohan said he knows this will be difficult because many employees are represented by unions.

But, he said, “We can’t be so much dependent on what the union wants. The unions and the administration both work for the taxpayers. We have to make changes ... That will be a difficult thing, but I don’t call it a limitation. It’s a challenge.”

Mohan also expects to cut town personnel by $1.5 million, or 4 percent, through attrition. When someone retires, their position may not be filled, but it won’t be across the board. “In some departments we need more and in some departments we don’t need any,” he said.

He also explained that, contrary to claims from Grelick, he does not propose any cuts to the Amherst Police Department.

Other cuts proposed by Mohan include:

• A $250,000 reduction in sick leave incentive by allowing employees to accumulate sick time, which will then be paid out at the time of retirement;

 A 10 percent, or $280,000, cut in utilities by taking advantage of energy savings plans and better business management;

 A 20 percent, or $40,000, cut in office supplies by using more paperless media;

 A 10 percent, or $350,000, cut in bond interest;

 A 20 percent, or $160,000, reduction in liability insurance;

 A $1.87 million cut in medical insurance by renegotiating contracts to reflect an 80 to 20 percent town/employee ratio; and

 A 25 percent, or $80,000, cut in clothing and shoe expenditures.

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