[Durham INC] County Budget (fund raising ideas)
randy at 27beverly.com
Wed Mar 24 22:19:48 EDT 2010
I pretty much have to concur with County Manager Ruffin as to what is in
the bank and why it is there. That's sort of a dead issue as far as having
a rainy day fund. The rain is already falling if you've been paying
attention. And some major storms are on the radar screen...
But there are some ways to generate more money for the schools. We just
have to get the right employees (or get the ones we have to do their
jobs). Here's my example that I have been trying to get fixed for almost a
year now. The Planning Department employee (Inspector) whose job it is to
enforce ordinances and codes says "he'd rather get compliance than give a
citation". Therein lies the problem. His time is better spent (4 days a
week if necessary) getting these violators fined for the violations. In
almost a year I have seen very little compliance. In some cases, the money
(from the fines) goes directly to the School System (to the tune of $500
increments per violation!). He could have either collected thousands of
dollars (in the year I have been trying to clean the roadside violations I
travel to the farm on) or have gotten compliance. He has done neither. For
the City, Neighborhood Improvement Services did make a small dent in the
list I gave them, but the Inspector from Planning and Zoning has a serious
problem when it comes to finding anything he has accomplished (just
relative to my interactions with him). I would have to give him a very
poor job performance rating. And all the time he could have been earning
money for the School System or cleaning up our community. Both positive
I had the pleasure of experiencing Solid Waste Durham County style this
past week. I was shocked to learn that they do not recycle metal (other
than a few white goods that the attendant said would be gone in the
morning because someone steals them regularly (for scrap metal I assume).
The State pays the municipalities for the disposal of white goods so we're
(taxpayers) losing money here. And if other metal was captured from the
waste stream, it too could be recycled for a profit (as the City does).
Instead the County sends a valuable resource like scrap metal to Virginia
for disposal (all waste in Durham goes to the same place) and pays to
throw it away. I found Station 4 on Redwood Rd. Was a real pain to unload
from. It is set up for side unloading when all trucks load from the rear.
This was really a pain if you had a load as I did. But they do recycle
oyster shells. I guess there is more money in them than scrap metal...
They need to get rid of the Inspectors who see compliance as the method of
choice for dealing with code and ordinance violations and get some pit
bulls in there to start collecting money (while cleaning up Durham!). And
recycling metal would add revenue. It may not be enough to save 400
teacher jobs, but some of the teachers I have seen need to be replaced. So
maybe getting rid of the bad ones in a budget crunch really won't hurt the
educational process of children. I've never had kids, but I've always paid
for their education through taxes. So getting rid of some under-performing
teachers may not be a bad idea. Like I've said before (and get heat when I
say it every time...), reduction in employees is not always a bad idea. I
think (like the Inspector story I mention above) that a lot of employees
get into this comfort zone where they take their jobs for granted and tend
to coast. Maybe this will be a wake up call that a new day is coming
whereby someone actually sees that people are actually doing their jobs.
And not just from the bottom up, but also from the top down. The old joke
of messing up so bad they promote you is not too far off base for a few...
> Over 400 citizens showed up for the conversations with council last night,
> and most of them were there to plead with the county not to cut the school
> budget AGAIN, and particularly not to eliminate one, single teacher's
> It was a great turnout, and I hope that we here in South Durham can have
> at least as good of a showing at the next public meeting with
> commissioners (Jordan High, March 30, 7 PM). This is especially important,
> since it is presumed that the big turnout last night was because of a
> letter sent out by the Durham PTA president, which the county claims
> mislead the public.
> For more details concerning DPS budget cuts under consideration this year,
> please see the following website:
> For information regarding the controversial 'rainy day fund,' which the
> county refuses to tap into to help our schools weather this storm, please
> see the news article and link below. After talking with several people
> more informed than I, I discovered that this rainy day fund is not only
> for schools, but for many Durham services and infrastructure (like a
> neighborhood's Reserve account), and I now feel that Durham should find
> ways to continue to invest in our citizens' education without having to
> tap this important savings account.
> What we need most are pleas to spare cuts to our school system,
> particularly teachers positions and salaries and classroom supplies, which
> include suggestions for other areas where cuts can be made, or areas where
> revenue can be raised (see the comment below). You can email your
> commissioners and school board members at:
> MPage at co.durham.nc.us; ereckhow at co.durham.nc.us; jbowser at co.durham.nc.us;
> BHeron at co.durham.nc.us; bhowerton at co.durham.nc.us;
> mruffin at co.durham.nc.us
> School Board:
> minnie.forte-brown at dpsnc.net, heidi.carter at dpsnc.net,
> omega.curtis-parker at dpsnc.net, fredrick.davis at dpsnc.net,
> kirsten.kainz at dpsnc.net, stephen.martin at dpsnc.net,
> leigh.bordley at dpsnc.net, hank.hurd at dpsnc.net
> please remove any spaces in the above email (they sometimes get slipped in
> there upon transmission).
> Melissa (Rooney)
> County denies surplus claim
> 1 day 15 hrs ago | 582 views | 0 | 9 | |
> By Ray Gronberg
> gronberg at heraldsun.com; 419-6648
> -- Supporters of the Durham Public Schools are misguided if they think
> the county government is sitting on a massive "rainy day fund" that
> could save the system from deep budget cuts, two key county officials
> Because of the recession, "the city of Durham, Durham
> County and Durham Public Schools all must reduce expenditures in a time
> when state and local revenues have plummeted," County Commissioners
> Chairman Michael Page said Monday night. "It is not an easy process,
> but it is one we cannot avoid."
> The chairman's comments, and
> parallel arguments from County Manager Mike Ruffin, took aim at Durham
> PTA President Trilby McClammy's call earlier this month for
> commissioners to spend part of the county's savings to ease pressure
> for cuts in school spending.
> McClammy said the county is sitting on "over $93 million," much of which
> "exists to be used in emergency situations."
> schools facing another round of state-dictated cuts that force DPS to
> eliminate hundreds of jobs, "we feel that our current circumstances fit
> that description," McClammy said in a March 12 letter that urged
> parents to lobby commissioners.
> She added that "for us, very little can be put ahead of our children's
> Ruffin, however, said the claim the county has a massive surplus at its
> disposal is false.
> did have $92.2 million in the bank as of last June 30. But $56 million
> of that was untouchable, either because of state statute or from
> previous decisions that "designated" it for other uses.
> remaining $36.1 million was in theory available, but much of that
> counted toward the reserve the county maintains to guard its AAA bond
> There is roughly $5 million not needed for the bond
> rating, but Ruffin doesn't want to tap that because local governments
> are under regulatory pressure to put more money in the bank to cover
> retiree benefits.
> Given all that, "the county does not have any
> additional funds in its reserves that it could appropriate to assist
> with the school system," Ruffin said.
> Page said critics should explain what services they think the county
> should cut to boost its allocation to the schools.
> "there are many that believe we are already funding our system at a
> very generous level," the chairman said Monday. "They do not want other
> services sacrificed or property taxes raised to fund our schools at a
> higher level."
> Ruffin said he'd written DPS Interim
> Superintendent Hank Hurd to say he was "dismayed" by the claims from
> school advocates that the county is sitting on extra money.
> City Manager Tom Bonfield, Ruffin also stressed that
> recession-triggered revenue shortfalls are likely to endure for years,
> making the problem less a rainy day and more one that demands lasting
> cuts in spending.
> When it comes to revenue, "there's this 'new
> normal,' " Ruffin said. "We don't know where it is, but it's not where
> it was. It's lower. We're all groping to where that point is going to
> end up. It's going to be several years before we right-size the
> organization to where we can live with the annual revenue we're going
> to get."
> He added that "the worst mistake" the county or the
> school system could make would be to use one-shot funding to fund
> ongoing expenses on the assumption that there will be a quick recovery.
> hard thing, the right thing to do is go ahead and make the [budget]
> adjustments you need to make," he said, adding that he's figuring on
> slashing county spending for the second year in a row.
> and school officials are scheduled to attend a forum on the budget
> tonight at 7 p.m. at the Holton Career and Resource Center, 401 N.
> Driver St.
> Ruffin is expecting PTA supporters to show up in
> force. "Because of [the McClammy] letter and the confusion, it could
> get a little incendiary," he said.
> My comment:
> While I empathize with the commissioners' and county manager's difficult
> situation in having to make ends meet with even less money than last year,
> I take issue with comparing Durham's public school system (and associated
> costs) with other nearby counties. It is a common fact that Durham has
> more challenges at a higher level than nearby Chapel Hill, Wake, etc.,
> including a larger ESL student population, a larger free-or-reduced-lunch
> population, a larger population of low-income families (well below the
> country average), and higher drop out rates and crime rates (which are, no
> doubt, related). That's why we have to spend more money than others on our
> school system.
> Teachers and parents (and citizens, in general), would like to see a
> TRANSPARENT breakdown of DPS's budget, including salaries and benefits for
> ALL administration positions -- including every person who works in the
> Fuller Bldg. We deserve to know exactly how DPS is allocating our money.
> As for where we can cover the costs ...
> The county should be putting immense pressure on the state to allow us to
> impose impact fees SOLELY on new development, as other counties (but NOT
> Durham) are currently permitted to do. There are plenty of residential
> properties that are vacant, for sale, or just plain dilapidated throughout
> Durham, and developers profiting from new construction should help pay the
> resulting infrastructure costs.
> 2) PREPARED Food Tax, Hotel Tax, and Entertainment Tax: The county should
> have a referendum for these taxes in every election from here on out. Over
> 60 % of those who work in Durham DO NOT live here (as school board
> candidate Hughes pointed out during his City Council run), yet they
> benefit from our services (roads, police, etc.) while they are here (which
> is at least 40 hours per week). This is one obvious way to get them to
> share in the costs.
> 3) Legalize Trap and Release in Durham, enabling volunteer citizens to
> trap stray animals, neuter/spay them, and then release them back where
> they found them. Other counties have had great success with this -- it
> reduces the workload of the Animal Control Dept, as well as the costs
> associated with trapping and euthanizing these animals. And release of
> these 'fixed' animals inhibits other, unfixed strays from coming into the
> area, thereby reducing our problems with feral animals.
> Durham INC Mailing List
> list at durham-inc.org
This e-mail, and any attachments to it, contains PRIVILEGED AND
CONFIDENTIAL information intended only for the use of the addressee(s) or
entity named on the e-mail. If you are not the intended recipient of this
e-mail, or the employee or agent responsible for delivering it to the
intended recipient, you are hereby notified that any reading,
dissemination or copying of this e-mail in error is strictly prohibited.
If you have received this electronic transmission in error, please notify
me by telephone (919-489-0576) or by electronic mail (pickle at patriot.net)
More information about the INC-list