Disappointed in City Manager/ CFO for fostering us against them mentality

I expect much more professionalism and collaboration from City Manager Donahue and Connor Baldwin. Instead in this week’s City Council packet we get old fashion down and dirty city politics something I’d never expect from these two individuals. It’s very disappointing.

From where I sit I think our current School Administration has done everything possible to work with the City in addressing the fiscal situation in the school department. Given the mess that Billy Jo Turner inherited I think she has done a phenomenal job in cleaning it up.

I believe she and Mrs. Durkin have tried to listen and learn from the City CFO, the City Manager and finance department and have tried to show that this current administration is going 1000% above what the past administration did in trying to work WITH the City and NOT in OPPOSITION!

This current school administration hasn’t gone after the City Manager or City Council about the complete lack of building upkeep or repairs that haven’t occurred over the past 20 years including when the current Manager was Mayor and a City Councilor. The Superintendent and Asst. Superintendent of Finance haven’t supported Paul George’s, the UTL leader in his endless attacks on the city by filing complaints with the state or Board of Health instead they have tried to work with the Managers Office.

I was Disappointed / Disgusted with the “Informational” piece in this week’s City Council packet pertaining to School Department Bad Bills.

My first thought is this is politics as usual. Mayor Samaras questions and criticizes the City Auditor, a member of the “Finance Team” and so in true political retaliation comes this hit piece.

There is absolutely NO reason that this had to be presented to the City Council besides the CFO and/or City Manager attempting to make our Finance person and the School Department look bad. The City CFO points out in his “letter” that there is at this point no request for a vote from the City Council. In fact our Asst. Superintendent of Finance has asked for Mr. Baldwin to explain to her exactly what she needs to include in getting these bad bills addressed and has told him in an email why she included items paid already.

They were cost incurred in the previous fiscal year that were paid BEFORE Ms.Turner arrived using funds needed for this years budget. At the very least, by law the City Council has to approve all “bad” bills or items paid for using this years funds when the actual cost incurred last fiscal year.

Yet Mr. Baldwin doesn’t show that email or explain that to the Councilors instead stating the correspondence which he doesn’t provide is problematic. I hope our Asst Superintendent of Finance attends and speaks about this hit “informational” piece at Tuesday’s meeting.

I believe the “concerns” about items being already paid and request for payroll disbursements were addressed to the CFO in an email and could and should have been addressed between Mr. Baldwin and Ms. Turner or between Mr. Baldwin, Ms. Turner and the Superintendent privately in a meeting among themselves not in this public forum where no vote is asked for or required.

Pointing these “discrepancies” out in a letter to the City Council reeks of more of a “political” concern by Mr. Baldwin than it does of any fiscal concern or care about fostering a collaborative working environment. In my view this was a pathetic attack against the School departments finance person for political pettiness.

This just fosters the US against them mentality that I’ve found in my first term.

The City side unions and leaders see the large amount of money the school department receives in Chapt 70 funding along with the raises the UTL have received and that only fosters the resentment. No one on the City side feels bad for the school department or School Committee even with the shortfalls because in many people’s view, the former School Committee let it occur, never voted on an initial budget, let the Administration do whatever it wanted and the former Administration ignored the City’s financial advice and concerns. No matter how much Ch. 70 money is given, there never seems to be enough. It’s understandably frustrating to the City departments who have had to live with level funding or less.

In the view of many has Chapt 70 increases so have cost on the School side. Money that could be used for one time purchases like technology instead get spent on additional personal increasing salary and benefit cost. Money that could be used to hire plumbing and HVAC staff to make buildings safer and provide our students with working heat and bathrooms gets voted down and instead fingers get pointed at the City bringing up the years of building neglect.

I’ve heard the City Manager and City Councilors say we have to get on the same and work together, especially when the taxpayers are being ask to accept an 8% – 10% tax increase to pay for the LHS project.

How is it team building when you publicly demean a fellow employee who inherited a fiscal mess and who has in my view gone out of her way to try to work with the City and welcomes your advise and counsel?

I was greatly disappointed to see this from Mr. Baldwin and the City Manager, sadly I have come to expect it from some on the City side but thought the current City Manager and Mr. Baldwin were better than this.

Disappointing that they are not!

Author: Gerry Nutter's - Looking at Lowell

I'm BACK...! I've followed the finances and issues with the City of Lowell and the Lowell School Dept. for the past 8 years while blogging and contributing to Saturday Morning Live! After serving 1 term on the School Committee I am back with my view on the events, people and politics of Lowell.

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