Quarterly Budget Process Makes Good Sense

By Stephen Puibello

In reading, "City Councilors: Once Watchdogs, now Servants," (Boston TAB, August 14, 1999) former Code Enforcement Director, former City
Councilor-At-Large, current Register of Probate for Suffolk County Richard Iannella's remarks about being more servants is 100% accurate. As the
BackBayNAG I have been lobbying my district Councilor Tom Keane on rodents, crosswalks, graffiti, newspaper boxes, rummaging, more litter baskets, less development--you name it since he took office. In telephoning his office I learned from Joseph M. Ganley Administrative Assistant to Tom Keane that 80% of the councilors job is constituent services.

With 80% of my city councilor's job being constituent services, why does the Mayors office of Neighborhood Services exist? Both the Councilors and Neighborhood Services are handling the same complaints, many which take as many as nine months to get action from thevarious city service departments, talk about waste of tax payer dollars. City Council needs to absorb Neighborhood Services into it's side of the Government, especially if in fact it is handling 80% of the work already. Neighborhood Services Operating Budget for FY99 was $886,547with a recommended amount of $919.731 for FY00. I'm not looking to do away with Neighborhood Services, what I'm saying is take it out of the hands of the Mayor and place it in the hands of the City Council. If the job is more localized now because of nine district councilors, then give them the proper tools to do their jobs, that being a staff doing outreach in the neighborhoods, not a city councilor and two three aides alone.

City Council's most important function is to oversee and review the budget, this process as it stands now is only done once per year. How can our two
term elected City Councilors get their 80% of constituent services portion of the job done in a timely manner, the answer is they donÌt. As a former city council candidate and as the Back Bay NAG I suggested that the budget review process go from once a year to quarterly! If the city service managers i.e. Directors and Commissioners controlled by the Mayor reported to the City Council quarterly that would mean eight visits in two years, not two, think of the accountability.

Think of the City of Boston as a publicly traded company that is required to file 10K reports to the SEC each quarter, this is so the investors, Boston's
taxpayers, can make firm decisions as how best to invest their money.Boston has well over 150 neighborhood groups that are very active, community participation is a good thing, much can be accomplished with this volunteer power. Give the neighborhoods and our elected city councilors for each
district the tools to truly SERVE us, that being a quarterly review process and the budget and staff of Neighborhood Services.

Email your thoughts to quarterly@backbaynag.org