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New Rochelle Sustainable Budget Panel Convened

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New Rochelle Sustainable Budget Panel Convened

January 31, 2012 - 22:31
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The New Rochelle City Council has appointed fifteen citizen volunteers to serve on the Citizens’ Panel on Sustainable Budgets. Tasked with analyzing service delivery levels and methods in the face of dwindling resources for 2013 and beyond, the panel will convene in February and work through July to produce recommendations in time for next year’s budget considerations.

The panel brings together citizens with experience in finance, administration and other relevant fields and will be chaired by resident Todd Kern. Members include Judith Berger, David Bieber, Michael Boyle Sr., Emily Bromberg, Kyran Cassidy, Matthew Costa, Michael D’Ambrosio, Jeffrey Hastie, Linda Kelly-Fauci, Bo Kemp, Martha Lopez-Hanratty, David Peters, Ann Rolett, and John Rorer. Additionally, pro bono consulting services will be provided by North Avenue Research, a team led by New Rochelle resident Mark Grotevant.

Selections were made from a strong pool of applicants in at-large and council district appointments. Mayor Noam Bramson will also serve on the committee along with two rotating members of City Council.

Citizens Panel on Sustainable Budgets

Citizens' Panel on Sustainable Budgets

Mission

Determine sustainable levels of and optimal delivery methods for municipal services
and investments, consistent with community priorities and in the context of
stagnant or diminishing resources.

Deliverable

Final report to the City Council and Administration that includes, but is not
necessarily limited to: (1) description of variable service levels and the probable
community benefits, costs and impacts associated with such service levels; (2)
analysis of the feasibility and merit of alternative service delivery methods; (3)
analysis of the feasibility and merit of alternative revenue sources; (4)
recommendations for better aligning municipal services, investments and revenue
generation with community priorities.

Membership (18 Total)

Mayor & Council. Non-Voting (3 Members)
Mayor
One Democratic Council Member- (Caucus to Select)
One Republican Council Member- (Caucus to Select)

At-Large Appointees. Voting (9 Members)
Mayor: 3 Appointees
City Council as a Whole: 6 Appointees
District Appointees. Voting (6 Members)
Each Council Member: 1 Appointee From His/Her District

Additional Participants
Advisory
City Manager
Finance Commissioner

Sources of Information & Perspective (Upon Request from Panel)
City Commissioners & Staff
Community Advocates
Labor Leaders
Staff Assistant & Pro Bono Consulting Services. If Possible

Chair
Citizen Member of Committee, To Be Selected By Council

Timetable
January 17: Adopt Enabling Legislation, Make At-Large Appointments
January 24: Deadline for District Appointments
February-June: Weekly Meetings
Final Report: July

Areas of Analysis
Public Safety, Law Enforcement & Emergency Services
Parks, Recreation & Human Services
Public Works Services & Infrastructure
Planning, Development and General Government Operations
Revenue

Requirements for All Members
Demonstrate civility and respect for competing viewpoints.
Begin with a genuinely open-mind.
Entertain all ideas and suggestions, with no options off-limits.
Apply a test of hard evidence to all assertions of fact.
Refrain from mobilizing external pressure.
Respect confidentiality, when necessary and appropriate.
Attend all meetings or provide a valid explanation for absences in advance.
DISCUSS: Have the capacity to attend meetings during business hours, if necessary.

Schedule of Activities
Note: The Following is for Illustrative & Discussion Purposes Only -Actual
Content & Schedule of Activities to Be Determined By Panel. Panel May Choose to
Meet as a Single Body or to Form Working Sub-Groups.

Prior to First Meeting
Distribute Budget & Comprehensive Annual Financial Report to All Members
Provide Additional Information as Recommended by City Manager

First Meeting: Overview & Tutorial
Preliminary Scoring of Operations & Priorities
Tutorial from Staff: Fiscal Conditions & Trends, City Structure & Operations
Discussion of Goals, Deliverable, Schedule and Ground Rules
Set Assumptions for Sustainable Revenue and Expenditure Levels

Second Meeting: Public Safety & Parks
In-Depth Examination of Service Delivery Methods & Costs
Preliminary Determination of Questions & Options to Explore
Identify Professionals, Advocates and Experts from Whom Input is Desired
Identify Data Needed For Further Analysis

Third Meeting: Public Safety & Parks
Receive & Discuss Testimony from Professional, Advocates & Experts
Receive & Discuss New Data and Information

Fourth Meeting: Public Safety & Parks
Define service and investment level options and impacts

Fifth Meeting: Public Works. Infrastructure. General
In-Depth Examination of Service Delivery Methods & Costs
Preliminary Determination of Questions & Options to Explore
Identify Professionals, Advocates and Experts from Whom Input is Desired
Identify Data Needed For Further Analysis

Sixth Meeting: Public Works. Infrastructure. General
Receive & Discuss Testimony from Professional, Advocates & Experts
Receive & Discuss New Data and Information

Seventh Meeting: Public Works. Infrastructure. General
Define service and investment level options and impacts

Eighth Meeting: Revenue
In-Depth Examination of Revenue Sources & Trends
Discussion of Alternative Revenue Sources
Identify Professionals, Advocates and Experts from Whom Input is Desired
Identify Data Needed For Further Analysis

Ninth Meeting: Revenue
Receive & Discuss Testimony from Professional, Advocates & Experts
Receive & Discuss New Data and Information

Tenth Meeting: Revenue
Define merits, impacts and feasibility of various revenue options

Eleventh Meeting: Other Topics or Spillover (if Necessary)
Review and Discussion of Procedural, Institutional and Fiscal Options not previously
discussed.

Twelfth Meeting: Other Topics or Spillover (if Necessary)
Define merits, impacts and feasibility of procedural, institutional and fiscal options
not previously discussed.

Thirteenth Meeting: Priorities
Commence discussion of community priorities for municipal service delivery and
investment, including tolerance and/or justification for service reductions and/ or
revenue increases.

Fourteenth Meeting: Priorities
Finalize discussion of community priorities for municipal service delivery and
investment, including tolerance and/or justification for service reductions and/ or
revenue increases.

Fifteenth Meeting: Draft Recommendations
Review and discuss draft of Panel report to Council and Administration.

Sixteenth Meeting: Final Recommendations
Review and vote upon Panel report to Council and Administration.

There are 8 Comments

I was going to post a lengthy entry on this project and its flaws. I will not do that as I want it to succeed and hope that their work is reasonably free from being overmanaged and controlled.

One suggestion which I will not elaborate on. You really need to employ an in-depth assessment process prior to undertaking the actual task laid out for you in the Schedule of Activities. That really should begin with breaking an unwieldly 15 or so people into smaller teams.

I have done hundreds of strategic planning sessions at all levels in organizations, governmental entities and academic environments.

There is no substitute for discovery that comes about from diagnosis followed by remedy. Ask your physician. Hell, today, corporations are people so it is even more the case.

But, again best of luck. If I can ever help, Noam and others know how to reach me and I would be happy to share some satisfied clients and colleagues with you.

Sadly missing from this list is Adam Egelberg. I would have loved to see him work on the panel. He should have been the team leader.

Wonder where most of the people live-do you think north of Eastchester Rd. Looked up North Ave. Research, I could only find Grotevant Research Partners in Bronxville. Trying to find out how many of this people contributed to Noam's campaign fund.

Adam did not qualify as he worked for and supported Ilyse Spertus running against Barry Fertel. It was Adam who found an extra $170,000 for the city buried in the Maple Street Senior Building renovation, he would have been a quintessential addition. Once you have opposed the powers to be you become an outcast, just ask Ilyse how she was received by the PTA after having the gaul to challenge Fertel.

Service delivery levels and methods. Will this committee be limited by those words? Will this committee have the ability to identify positions which can be terminated without affecting basic governmental services (police, fire, sanitation)? Will this committee have the ability to review all positions to identify possible duplication of services and recommend consolidation? In short, will this committee have total freedom in their total budgetary analysis and recommendations or will they be charged with a task that ties one hand behind their backs like the Iona housing committee who can't debate the necessity of housing expansion?

I hope Bob Cox reveals the committee members affiliations, i.e. party registration, political donations etc.

I have checked with all my sources and although time has thinned the ranks, no one has heard of Mike Grotevant or his firm. A search of consultant directories produces no results as well. I do this because Strategic Planning/Organizational Assessment is a skilled discipline and even a cursory search of Harvard, MIT, Wharton, etc. reveals that to be the case.

This does not mean this man or organization lacks ability but if they lack certification in the field or demonstrated change, well.....

Tim I like your idea of backchecking. After all it was Noam who publically said to prepare a resume book and so, it must be available. I have no idea about contributions.

I recognize Boyle Sr and Costa and think I can piece together where they came from. Costa comes from a fine recommendation; Boyle Sr. I am sure is a strong city advocate as he produced a fine son who served this city well and truly.

I am going to hold my criticism as I indicated in my earlier post. I offer two names, Dr. Daniel Rosen and Dr. Henry Brenner. The former is well aware of my work domestically, with non-profits and universities and we have jointly published. The latter is very well aware of my work overseas and is intimate with my model and systems development ass well as my work with universities and both for profits and non profits.

I say this not as sour grapes but for being available for any assistance I can give the community or City or this task force.

Again I cannot overemphasize the application of an assessment approach to identify strengths and weaknesses in a systematic way on matters such as you mention on our internal environment and budget and financial management is one of these. At the same time an assessment approach gauges opportunities and threats we face in the external environment such as the economy, communities like ours , the business, etc. state and national government and in both internal and external, so many more. To avoid a drawn out talkfest, an operating model and stems for that model should be provided along with breaking down all of the participants into work teams of 5 or 6 people to ensure efficiency and productivity.

The only way to avoid over control is to eliminate the volume of city appointed board members and staff on the task force. Actually the system is deficient by not having the 7 council members (includes the mayor) backing away and serving as the recipient of the final report which they can yea, nay, review, etc.... to ensure continuity with city planning, freimuth and some of his planning and development colleagues should be participants and perhaps serve as non-combantant team leaders.

hope for the best.

After I received the press announcement I requested various supporting documents and information. What I have gotten so far is now added to the above post. Thanks to Kathy Gilwit for that.

I am still waiting to hear back on how many resumes were received in total and the means by which each person was selected for the committee based on the protocol described above.

thank you as always for your professionalism and diligence. what you received from Kathy was part of the release made by Noam on or about January 12.

You request for further information will be helpful as would be any published criteria on member qualifications which is described earlier as "criteria" for selection. Any information of the sort requested by Knitter and Tim would help and that would include more information on the assigned consultant.

Thanks again and much appreciated

Thank you to those who think I would have made a good addition to the sustainable budget panel. Both Councilman Trangucci and Mayor Bramson separately asked me to participate. I had to decline due to the huge time commitment it would have required. I also had concerns that the panel would be too large to be effective. That said, Todd Kern is a wise choice to chair the effort and gives them a good chance to be successful. I have made myself available to them for any related special projects if they think I can be of help.

Adam

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