Sunday, May 15, 2016

Consultants to Jackson: Freeze, cut, & collect

Consultants Michael Thomas and Rick Hill presented a preliminary plan to cut costs and whip the city of Jackson's finances into shape at a meeting of the city council last Thursday.  Freezing, reviewing, and collecting were the buzzwords thrown around at the meeting as the city addressed its budget crisis.  The Yarber administration told the city council at the same meeting that several million dollars had been withdrawn from the reserve fund to balance the budget. Mr. Thomas is president of Systems Consultants.  Mr. Hill is the former Chief Financial Officer for the city.

The two consultants recommended:

1. Freezing "all non-essential spending" for the rest of the year.
2. Freeze hiring for current open positions.   They claim this will save $1.4 million.
3. Review each division for potential savings.  (Um, shouldn't this have been done already?)
4. Review contracts with an eye towards renegotiating
5. Use solar energy and electric cars.
6. Use Health Savings Accounts to reduce medical insurance costs.  The memo claims it will increase the net pay for employees while reducing payroll taxes.
7. Issue an RFP for parking meters ASAP. (This has been discusses since last fall.)
8. Create an internal mail system where one person delivers the mail to all departments. Employees in each department are responsible for delivering the mail.
9. The city uses two different software programs for the budget.  The consultants recommend using only one program.
10.  Stop using outside companies for printing.  Use the city's Office of Publication.
11. Hire a collection agency to collect Municipal Court fines instead of using employees.
12. Implement performance-based budgeting.

Start at 9:05.

The final report is due tomorrow.

Kingfish note: No mention of selling assets. No mention of closing divisions. Mr. Hill is well-respected and knows the city budget probably better than anyone else since he worked for Jackson for forty years. However, it might be time to hire a truly outside consultant. Such a consultant would have no ties or biases and would bring a completely different way of looking at city finances.


Anonymous said...

Michael Thomas is top notch. Rick Hill, on the other hand, is historical baggage and part of the problem.

Anonymous said...

Yes, cut unproductive employees first and foremost. Then, how about start collecting water/sewer fees from EVERY SINGLE HOME, or shut it OFF. That should just about do it. No consulting fee necessary for that info. You're welcome

Anonymous said...

Nowhere is it mentioned to start actually reading water meters, to start billing and collecting for actual water usage and to file civil lawsuits against the thousands of documented water thieves discovered during the new water meter installation.

Anonymous said...

All the proof you need about the serious nature of these recommendations:

5. Use solar energy and electric cars.

Anonymous said...

Oil is hitting a modern low and isn't rising any time soon. Yea lets go purchase a bunch of electronic cars for 50k each. Sheesh. The other ideas are fine and probably didn't need a hired consultant to figure them out.

Anonymous said...

There isn't enough time remaining in this fiscal year for any of the suggestions, however worthy, to get implemented and pay enough dividends to plug this massive budget shortfall.

C'mon, health insurance is budgeted below the premium amount? This is ineptitude of the highest order.

The short term problems are only going to get fixed by layoffs, a massive property tax increase or both. Yet layoffs aren't even on the table and per the consultant the City wants to end the existing furloughs and avoid future ones.

This whole consultant garbage is the due diligence show for the crowd that created the problems. Which path of least resistance do you think the elected Jackson brain trust will take?

Bend over NEJackson because the few of you still paying property taxes are about to get some more of your wealth redistributed by the abject failures pretending to be good stewards in City Hall.

Team Jackghanistan said...

Consultants' report (pg 8) recommends starting
yet another, but this time "aggressive",
"buy local in Jackson" program.
You can't make this stuff up! LOL

Anonymous said...

Someone should follow the city leaders and write a book documenting the death if the city as it ocurs

Anonymous said...

The city doesn't want to actually start using the accurate water readings. In the first year of installations of the new meters, residents were billed with the occasional read. In January of 2015 those readings were set back to zero due to a "glitch" in the billing system. This created an artificially high read for February-March bills because a given resident was billed for all of the water they have already paid for since the installation of the new meter.

So, estimations were still being used and January 2016 rolls around and those estimations from the artificially high readings from the previous year are replicated.

There are customers with over a 3,000ccf difference between what their current estimated reading show and whats on their actual meters. There are likely some with a much higher difference, depending upon when their new meter was installed.

Anonymous said...

they could have read this blog and gotten the same results. should we hire a consultant to prove that?

Anonymous said...

Is this the same Michael Thomas that worked for JPS? If so, he's a moron.

Anonymous said...

Electric cars. This is like a comic book. The same people who messed up the budget are the ones who are going to straighten it out. Gets funnier every day. Except for those few tax payers left in Jackson. I feel sorry for them.

Anonymous said...

Would someone please enter unannounced into the sign shop, print shop, fire garage,municipal garage,small engine shop. No work being done. State auditor finds private car repairs routinely done at fire garage, ringleader promoted promoted to superintendent. Bogus overtime. Giving Rick hill a check now?

Just A Few Realities said...

The dilemma is this:

How can you continue on payroll the thousands of black cronies, daughters of friends and supporters employed as 'project coordinators' while refusing to control payroll costs and hoping the problem will diminish?

How can the city continue to pay the PERS pro-ratum for the thousands of employees who pull half-duty but are earning full retirement?

How can Yarber keep the thousands on payroll leftover from prior administrations while continuing to add to the payroll all those who put him in office while, at the same time, claiming he's controlling payroll costs?

How can the city continue to provide free services to those who steal services but are protected by certain city councilmen and are untouchable?

How can the city afford to pay double the deficit in contracts and 'studies' and expect that the monetary suck-hole will reduce itself over time?

How can the money spent on mail-order bow-ties be expected to reduce the taxes lost by businesses that have moved out of town?

How much will the city donate in-kind to the upcoming black rodeo and why?

Anonymous said...

5:24, you know you are a racist. Asking questions like that is a sure sign.

Anonymous said...

How much was paid for these simplistic, obvious recommendations? Getting this done, sans electric vehicles, would take a miracle. And it's not enough. Can we add:

1. Don't borrow money to pay for a study.
2. Sue Siemens.
3. Have a true, objective review of the one cent sales tax revenue. And since we've waited this long, don't spend a dime until a new administration/emergency manager (yeah, I know) or whatever. Don't want to piss more money away.

Anonymous said...

Laughable. And people wonder why some are pondering a state takeover.

Anonymous said...

Freezing open positions has been a bad idea since first done.
It's laziness in government.
What happens is that essential positions don't get filled and efficiency suffers while departments with too many employees who don't have enough to do keep meandering.
Most of the time, hiring consultants is lazy as well and usually ends up with a plan that is not implemented or is cherry picked. Call in the Else School of Management. The faculty and students could assess the problems in city government better than a private company who knows their future contracts depend on making those who hired them happy. Millsaps has an interest in Jackson doing well.

Anonymous said...

NOTHNG can be done to save Jackson. Too little too late and past the point of return several years ago.

Anonymous said...

my suggestions:
1. Cut garbage collection to once a week. Waste Management furnishes large cans.
2. Streamline JPS and see if they can do with less taxes. The last bond issue was handled poorly. The administration seems very top-heavy. Do this after the next Federal election. Things might just change. Utilize City Bus Routes for school children to save JPS money.
3. Hire enough workers to fill potholes everyday, all day, and do it right.
4. Close the Planetarium except for special events.
5. Delay the East End of Capitol Street
6. Establish Truck Routs and Load Limits within the City. Establish roads off limits to large Trucks.
7. Crack down on 18 wheeler parking and 18 wheeler tractor parking. Maybe establish a for-profit secure parking lot for 18 wheelers. They damage our streets!!!
8. Have 2 people devoted to securing grants from every source possible.
9. Continue to update mapping with GIS so that every job will not have to re-establish GIS.
10. Closer controls on night-time HVAC systems.
11. Return some upkeep to Parks and Recreation.
12. Require stricter enforcement on grass cutting and upkeep of vacant properties. Like whoever pays the taxes must bear the cost of upkeep or forfiet property. Called Enterprise Fund.
12. Water revenue goes into improving water system and retiring bonds. Sewer system revenue goes into sewer bond retirement and system improvements. Called Enterprise Fund.
13. Look at CDBG Funds for possible cuts to allow putting money into streets/drainage.
14. LED Lighting everywhere.
15. Continue clearing and selling vacant lots, even for $250.00 each. This creates a tax payer instead of a tax burden. Save money by not requiring concrete driveways, steps and sidewalks be demolished on these lots. Trade lots for work.

Could probably come up with 100 more, but I don't have the time.

Anonymous said...

Look into nepotism and do not allow more than a certain number of immediate family to work for city. ie: 1 or 2 firemen and no one else. 1 husband and wife, no brothers and sisters. 1 policeman and 1 fireman. It is amazing how many families all work for the City and it is the cause of many rumors and hard feelings and bad morale. Not to mention making some totally immuned to being fired.

Anonymous said...

Agree with 9:02 PM as to suing Siemens. Do not agree with delaying road and drainage work from 1% sales tax. Stop studies except when no other alternative is possible. Include feasibility studies in contracts for individual jobs. Stop Project Management and utilize accountability computer programs. One specialized person handling all of this type of computer accountability would save millions of un-necessary dollars being spent on project management. If you are hiring a professional to design and supervise a project, that profession should be capable of project management and also has professional liability insurance. Project Management is a layer of expense totally not needed. Bring the EPA consent decree in house and save millions. Competent people can be hired but the current pay scale won't allow for this.

Anonymous said...

May 16, 2016 at 11:20 AM = Only treats symptoms

Anonymous said...

You cannot save much without cutting personnel, but you can save some.

Anonymous said...

All future CDBG funds should be used for road and streets improvements and this could serve as the required federal match on DOT road projects. CDBG can legally match other federal funds. Jackson has made this a social give away program and nothing gets built. Jackson is worst managed town in the country.

Anonymous said...

The sooner we get Melvin Priester to replace Yarber in the next election, the better so at last we can address our problems.

Anonymous said...

12:19, replacing anyone will not make any difference. It is a mindset of the city. The only difference when one mayor is replaced by another mayor is the new mayor will replace all of the friends, family of the old mayor with family, friends of the new mayor.
You will still have unqualified people working for the city. You will still have employees of the city stealing from the city.

Anonymous said...

Hundred-passenger city busses ply the rubbled city streets with one or two passengers.
Should be replaced with jitneys or uber. Save millions.

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Trollfest '09

Trollfest '07 was such a success that Jackson Jambalaya will once again host Trollfest '09. Catch this great event which will leave NE Jackson & Fondren in flames. Othor Cain and his band, The Black Power Structure headline the night while Sonjay Poontang returns for an encore performance. Former Frank Melton bodyguard Marcus Wright makes his premier appearance at Trollfest singing "I'm a Sweet Transvestite" from "The Rocky Horror Picture Show." Kamikaze will sing his new hit, “How I sold out to da Man.” Robbie Bell again performs: “Mamas, don't let your babies grow up to be Bells” and “Any friend of Ed Peters is a friend of mine”. After the show, Ms. Bell will autograph copies of her mug shot photos. In a salute to “Dancing with the Stars”, Ms. Bell and Hinds County District Attorney Robert Smith will dance the Wango Tango.

Wrestling returns, except this time it will be a Battle Royal with Othor Cain, Ben Allen, Kim Wade, Haley Fisackerly, Alan Lange, and “Big Cat” Donna Ladd all in the ring at the same time. The Battle Royal will be in a steel cage, no time limit, no referee, and the losers must leave town. Marshand Crisler will be the honorary referee (as it gives him a title without actually having to do anything).

Meet KIM Waaaaaade at the Entergy Tent. For five pesos, Kim will sell you a chance to win a deed to a crack house on Ridgeway Street stuffed in the Howard Industries pinata. Don't worry if the pinata is beaten to shreds, as Mr. Wade has Jose, Emmanuel, and Carlos, all illegal immigrants, available as replacements for the it. Upon leaving the Entergy tent, fig leaves will be available in case Entergy literally takes everything you have as part of its Trollfest ticket price adjustment charge.

Donna Ladd of The Jackson Free Press will give several classes on learning how to write. Smearing, writing without factchecking, and reporting only one side of a story will be covered. A donation to pay their taxes will be accepted and she will be signing copies of their former federal tax liens. Ms. Ladd will give a dramatic reading of her two award-winning essays (They received The Jackson Free Press "Best Of" awards.) "Why everything is always about me" and "Why I cover murders better than anyone else in Jackson".

In the spirit of helping those who are less fortunate, Trollfest '09 adopts a cause for which a portion of the proceeds and donations will be donated: Keeping Frank Melton in his home. The “Keep Frank Melton From Being Homeless” booth will sell chances for five dollars to pin the tail on the jackass. John Reeves has graciously volunteered to be the jackass for this honorable excursion into saving Frank's ass. What's an ass between two friends after all? If Mr. Reeves is unable to um, perform, Speaker Billy McCoy has also volunteered as when the word “jackass” was mentioned he immediately ran as fast as he could to sign up.

In order to help clean up the legal profession, Adam Kilgore of the Mississippi Bar will be giving away free, round-trip plane tickets to the North Pole where they keep their bar complaint forms (which are NOT available online). If you don't want to go to the North Pole, you can enjoy Brant Brantley's (of the Mississippi Commission on Judicial Performance) free guided tours of the quicksand field over by High Street where all complaints against judges disappear. If for some reason you are unable to control yourself, never fear; Judge Houston Patton will operate his jail where no lawyers are needed or allowed as you just sit there for minutes... hours.... months...years until he decides he is tired of you sitting in his jail. Do not think Judge Patton is a bad judge however as he plans to serve free Mad Dog 20/20 to all inmates.

Trollfest '09 is a pet-friendly event as well. Feel free to bring your dog with you and do not worry if your pet gets hungry, as employees of the Jackson Zoo will be on hand to provide some of their animals as food when it gets to be feeding time for your little loved one.

Relax at the Fox News Tent. Since there are only three blonde reporters in Jackson (being blonde is a requirement for working at Fox News), Megan and Kathryn from WAPT and Wendy from WLBT will be on loan to Fox. To gain admittance to the VIP section, bring either your Republican Party ID card or a Rebel Flag. Bringing both and a torn-up Obama yard sign will entitle you to free drinks served by Megan, Wendy, and Kathryn. Get your tickets now. Since this is an event for trolls, no ID is required. Just bring the hate. Bring the family, Trollfest '09 is for EVERYONE!!!

This is definitely a Beaver production.

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Trollfest '07

Jackson Jambalaya is the home of Trollfest '07. Catch this great event which promises to leave NE Jackson & Fondren in flames. Sonjay Poontang and his band headline the night with a special steel cage, no time limit "loser must leave town" bout between Alan Lange and "Big Cat"Donna Ladd following afterwards. Kamikaze will perform his new song F*** Bush, he's still a _____. Did I mention there was no referee? Dr. Heddy Matthias and Lori Gregory will face off in the undercard dueling with dangling participles and other um, devices. Robbie Bell will perform Her two latest songs: My Best Friends are in the Media and Mama's, Don't Let Your Babies Grow up to be George Bell. Sid Salter of The Clarion-Ledger will host "Pin the Tail on the Trial Lawyer", sponsored by State Farm.

There will be a hugging booth where in exchange for your young son, Frank Melton will give you a loooong hug. Trollfest will have a dunking booth where Muhammed the terrorist will curse you to Allah as you try to hit a target that will drop him into a vat of pig grease. However, in the true spirit of Separate But Equal, Don Imus and someone from NE Jackson will also sit in the dunking booth for an equal amount of time. Tom Head will give a reading for two hours on why he can't figure out who the hell he is. Cliff Cargill will give lessons with his .80 caliber desert eagle, using Frank Melton photos as targets. Tackleberry will be on hand for an autograph session. KIM Waaaaaade will be passing out free titles and deeds to crackhouses formerly owned by The Wood Street Players.

If you get tired come relax at the Fox News Tent. To gain admittance to the VIP section, bring either your Republican Party ID card or a Rebel Flag. Bringing both will entitle you to free drinks.Get your tickets now. Since this is an event for trolls, no ID is required, just bring the hate. Bring the family, Trollfest '07 is for EVERYONE!!!

This is definitely a Beaver production.

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