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Archive for June, 2009

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Saturday starts with sensation: DEFICIT! SPENDING! AUDITORS! The local paper eagerly posts headlines that compel the reader to believe the ship has gone down and all that remains is a slight stream of steam and bubbles. The story is disappointingly one-sided, given that along with audit findings from the Comptrollers office (OSC), the paper was provided with the City’s immediate response to this report.

The untold story is that the Council had been made aware of the excess in expenditures months ago (some contract-driven and some by necessity) and that my administration has been working with a representative funded through the OSC for the past year to identify long-standing deficiencies in operations. Truth be told, the Council was presented with a comprehensive proposal to address our challenges BEFORE the OSC issued its findings and I am hoping for support of this initiative at the next CC meeting.

As I have stated before, I am grateful to the OSC for coming to the City early in my administration (arriving last summer and on-site until May) to conduct policy, procedure and budget analyses that will allow us to better our fiscal oversight and budgeting. Their recommendations concur with our internal assessment of operations over the past year and I am gladdened that we may meet the challenges we face proactively with a strategic plan of action that we may implement immediately.

The proposal presents an improved way for the City of Amsterdam to manage expenditures to avoid overspending. We will provide timely, clear financial management tools for the aldermen, the mayor and department heads. We will develop long-term fiscal policies, financial goals and operating plans, along with a strict expenditure discipline.

The specific work plan and timeline are as follows –

Revenue and Expenditure Tracking:
Months 1-2:
– Devise a simple, clear and informative monthly budget tracking report and fiscal impact statement for each financial action before the Council;
Months 2-12:
– assist department heads in the production of these tracking mechanisms to present to the Council at our bimonthly meetings.

Spending Controls:
Months 1-3:
– Develop a simple revenue and expenditure cash flow analysis;
Months 3-6:
– devise a simple, concise system that compares cash flow with the budget tracking report;
Months 4-12:
– manage spending by using the cash flow/budget tracking comparison system.

Budget Analysis:
Months 1-3:
– Conduct historical analysis of the last five years’ budgets, actual collected revenues and operating expenses;
Months 4- 6:
– comparison of current years’ budget with historical analysis;
Months 5-8:
– projection of next three years’ revenues and expenses.

Improved Budget Process and Format:
Months 6-9:
– Devise a simple, clear, and informative yearly budget presentation format;
Months 7-11:
– assist department heads to implement the reformatted document;
Months 11-12:
– compare proposed 2010-11 budget with historical budget analysis.

The financial challenges of the next few years require that the City begin this year-long financial control process now. I am pleased that we have been actively working toward taking this necessary action immediately and the state auditors responded very positively to our plan when I met with them on Friday morning. City Comptroller Heather Reynicke has already identified several avenues to fund this initiative in closing out this year’s budget. Our consultant’s credentials are exemplary, touting practical, hands-on management and operations experience at municipal, county, state, federal and international levels. Surely, $2,500 a month is worth spending to ensure that we are protecting the best interests of our constituents in managing a $23 million dollar business. I am certain that our Council takes its fiduciary responsibility very seriously and will respond to this challenge for the opportunity that it is.

May calm, rational thought rule the day.

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“… such feelings as lust, hatred, enmity, jealousy, and belligerence – should not be expressed; they become more and more frequent.
hatredExpressing them tends to make them stronger and more prevalent. It is better to reflect on the disadvantages of engaging in such emotions and to try to displace them with feelings of satisfaction and love. We should forcefully overcome negative emotions when they appear, but it would be even better to find ways to prevent them in the first place.

Lust and hatred give rise to the other counterproductive emotions and thereby create a whole lot of trouble in the world. We cannot be content to live with the consequences of lust and hatred. Of the two, hatred is worse on an immediate basis because it so quickly brings harm to others…

The root of lust and hatred is ignorance of the true nature of all living beings as well as ignorance of the nature of inanimate things. This ignorance is not just lack of knowledge but a consciousness that imagines the exact opposite of the truth; it misapprehends what is actually so. There are many levels of misperception, as in failing to understand what to adopt in practice and what to discard in daily behavior, but here we are talking about the ignorance at the root of all suffering.”

– His Holiness the Dalai Lama
How to Practice The Way to a Meaningful Life, 2002

love hate hand

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poem

Look to the Future

Look to the future
Detach from the past
Let the people go
Start a new this time
Look to the future
Love like it’ll last
Dream like it’s forever
No move envy
Look to the future
Have the star life
Learn from others
Take it in
Look to the future
Be proud with yourself
No more lies
No more disguises
Look to the future
Solve the unresolved
Be someone’s firefly
Stop living for yourself
Look to the future
Be the person
You dream to be
Stop fantasizing
Look to the future
It’s only gets brighter
From here on out
Detach from the past
Look to the future

– Leah Harlow

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poem

Questions

If on a summer afternoon a man should find himself
in love with only one woman
in a sea of women, all the others mere half-naked
swimmers and floaters, and if that one woman
therefore is clad in radiance
while the mere others are burdened by their bikinis,
then what does he do with a world
suddenly so small, the once unbiased sun
shining solely on her? And if that afternoon
turns dark, fat clouds like critics dampening
the already wet sea, does the man run—
he normally would—for cover, or does he dive
deeper in, get so wet he is beyond wetness
in all underworld utterly hers? And when
he comes up for air, as he must,
when he dries off and dresses up, as he must,
how will the pedestrian streets feel?
What will the street lamps illuminate? How exactly
will he hold her so that everyone can see
she doesn’t belong to him, and he won’t let go?

– by Stephen Dunn, from Local Visitations.
© W.W. Norton & company, 2003.

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pride and joy

“Go forth into the busy world and love it. Interest yourself in life, mingle kindly with its joys and sorrows, try what you can do for others rather than what you can make them do for you, and you will know what it is to have friends.”

– Ralph Waldo Emerson, 1805-1882

IMG_0122

IMG_0253

My pride, my joy, my world.

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The importance of the Chalmers restoration project to the future of this city cannot be underestimated. Once completed, this $24 million dollar venture will bring $890,000 in property tax revenues, $102,000 in water/sewer fees, $180,0000 in sales tax generated by $4.5 million dollars in sales, all ANNUALLY. The 180-luxury apartments can revitalize our downtown and waterfront area in ways that will affect generations to come. It is vitally important that the City of Amsterdam support this effort in order to create an atmosphere that is inviting to other developers. Believe me, they are following this situation.

We need to make rational, informed decisions about our future. This City must be a cooperative participant in the growth of our region.

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