Brian Pugh: Win-Win Budgeting

To The Editor:brian-pugh-group-cropped
It’s popular to talk about controlling taxes, but far less common for politicians to specify how they plan to manage the expenditures that make taxes necessary.
Helpfully, our Village Manager identifies “significant increases in expenditures” in the annual budget memo. In the memo from March, 2017, the Village Manager names the largest increase as “[e]mployee benefits, including pension costs, FICA, and health insurance premiums are estimated to increase by $340,299.”
By state law, public employees can’t strike. On the other hand, the law also says they continue to receive all benefits while a new contract is negotiated. Pension contributions are also determined by the state.
However, it is still possible to find savings through collaborative methods under NYS law.
A properly designed retirement incentive can be a money-saver.  In 2010, NYS adopted a voluntary early retirement incentive credited by the independent Citizens Budget Commission with saving taxpayers hundreds of millions of dollars.
Savings can also be realized by finding insurance policies that are a better value for taxpayers and workers through such instruments workers compensation safety groups and municipal cooperative health plans, which join employers together to secure more favorable terms from insurers.
If we are serious about controlling taxes, we must think about how we can control spending.  And there’s no need to re-invent the wheel when it comes to strategic budgeting. The tools are there–we just need to pick them up.
Brian Pugh

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