Finance Committee meeting, Part 2: here’s how the Capital Projects fund ends up over $3 million in the red

14 Dec

I was in such a hurry to flop out that post yesterday, I didn’t explain what made me so mad about that Finance Committee meeting. 

They were talking about the cost allocation study recently completed by a consultant. A cost allocation study is a breakdown of the costs related to doing business with each department in the city – everything from salaries and benefits of department employees  to that department’s share of the muni building water bill on the day they were working on a project.    Not only is this good information to know when council is making decisions on various projects, but it’s necessary to receive payment for those employees when they work on any project funded by a federal grant. 

Because we don’t have this study, we have gone seriously into the red doing these federal projects. The Capitol Projects fund is over by more than $3 million dollars as they’ve tapped it to pay the salaries of the employees who’ve been involved, in the tiniest way, in these projects. They wouldn’t tell me which projects, and I’m not going into the research, but I’ll use a state-funded project as an example.

For several years staff worked toward this Downtown remodel – the stupid roundabouts and re-striping, etc, etc, a project that has at last report already gone at least a million over budget. They racked up hours and hours on that project, and all those hours, along with the air-conditioning bill, were supposed to be paid by that project.   Staff will tell you, that project was paid for with state grants – as though, that’s not our tax money too? Well, don’t forget – for any grant, we have to match funds out of the city coffers, so stop letting them act like these grants are free manna from Heaven.

In the case of state grants, staff tells us, we are able to charge staff costs to the grant. But, I’m going to guess, without this cost allocation crap, we weren’t able to recoup as much money as we should have. And, don’t forget, a lot of it gets paid out of the matching funds.  Furthermore, in the case of projects done with federal grants, we are not allowed to even charge for the employees. We pay them and all the bills related to keeping them in a building right out of the Capital Projects Fund. That’s why that fund is over $3 million in the red. 

The problem here is still our stupid council. They have approved these projects, millions and millions of red dollars, without any concern for what they would actually do to our budget. If they didn’t know this stuff, they should have – they tell us, especially those fucking idiots Goloff and  Morgan, that we elected them to make decisions for us, we’re supposed to sit back and trust them to know what the hell they’re doing. 

That, my friends, is the joke, and unfortunately it is on us. 

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