VA State Legislators Tell City Council to Get in Line

“If you want to have the state involved … there’s a lot of projects that are in front of it,” Delegate Chris Jones R-76 said. “You have to get in line, and it has to be a priority.”

via Legislators discuss library | The Suffolk News-Herald.

Last year, I worked with the Suffolk Chapter of the Hampton Roads Tea Party, and we got the city to postpone the library project, a replacement of Morgan Memorial Library, a perfectly fine library near the heart of downtown.  They had planned to spend 1.5 million dollars buying up the land, for a library they were not projecting to build until sometime after 2019.  It seemed a ridiculous waste of money considering they were already planning to raise taxes, and did NOT have the full 9 million extra the school system was requesting.  So City Council was forced to defer the project.

This year, they’ve partnered with Paul De Camp Community College for 2 reasons.  First, to try to get grant money from the state to fund the project. Second, to make the Tea Party types shut up about it, because how could we possibly be against education?  /eyeroll

The new library will be on the corner of Lee & West Washington, where there are several houses & business right now, so that land would have to bought and taken off the tax rolls.  Also, it will cost $22 MILLION dollars!  That’s twice the cost of the new city hall!

Our illustrious mayor, Ms. Linda Johnson, has said in the past that she really wants this library project to go forward. She honestly believes that if we have a spiffy new library across from our spiffy new City Hall, that people will just love to hang out there.  Because, oh yes – when I think of where I want to go hang out and relax, I think City Hall.  /eyeroll   No, I am not joking. She actually said that.  You’d have to go through the archives of the City Council meeting discussing the project, but it’s there.

So the Council really wants this project, but they know they will face resistance again.  They joined up with PDCCC to try to circumvent the resistance by getting state money.  However, state legislators are telling them that the money won’t come from the state anytime soon.  LOL!

Dear citizens of Suffolk, be prepared, and start fighting this NOW!  Go to council meetings and speak up during the Non-Agenda Speakers time!  Start telling the council NOW that this project needs to stop, the city does not have the money, and the legislators have made it clear that the money won’t be coming from the state anytime soon.

Budget Battle Starts Today!

Money-01The Budget Battle starts today!!! At the City Council Retreat (currently going on right now at the Health & Human Services building) The council is discussing things that will impact the budget in big ways. If you have a few free moments today and tomorrow, please pop over there and make sure they know we are watching!

Here is the agenda:
Thursday

8:30 to 9 a.m. — Breakfast
9 to 9:30 a.m. — Welcome, retreat agenda review, video
9:30 to 10:45 a.m. — Economic development accomplishments, public safety accomplishments, financial accomplishments
10:45 to 11 a.m. — Council-city manager form of government
11 a.m. to 2 p.m. — Lunch break
2 to 2:30 p.m. — Assessor update
2:30 to 3:45 p.m. — Capital Improvements Plan: Neighborhood, water and transportation projects
3:45 to 4 p.m. — Break
4 to 5 p.m. — Quality of life: Parks, Social Services and libraries

Friday

8:30 to 9 a.m. — Breakfast
9 to 10 a.m. — Southeastern Public Service Authority
10 to 10:15 a.m. — Break
10:15 to 10:45 a.m. — Goals and objectives
10:45 to 11:45 a.m. — Employee health, wellness and benefits
11:45 a.m. to noon — Break
Noon to 12:45 p.m. — Working lunch: Comprehensive plan
12:45 to 1:15 p.m. — Recap and wrap-up

Suffolk City Manager gets a 14% pay raise

Wednesday, January 16, 2013, the Suffolk City Council surprised everyone with a vote to give City Manager Selena Cuffee-Glenn a 14% pay raise, in addition to a benefits package that includes a payment of 12,000$ a year into a retirement account, and health & dental covered 100% by the city.  (VA Daily Pilot, Suffolk News Herald)

Oh, and this new 14% raise, is in addition to the 2% raise ALL city employees, including Ms. Cuffee-Glenn, got last year.

But this shouldn’t be surprising to folks who are involved! Anyone remember the budget battle of April 2012?  Remember the idea of a 21% raise for Ms Cuffee-Glenn was one of four double digit raises the City Manager had included in the budget, citing a salary study.  There was an uproar, mostly from the school system, who, having run out of Federal money, found themselves faced with 7 million dollars less than the year before.  In order to pacify the School Board, the city raided the transportation fund, and “found” a few million to throw their way.  Then Mayor Linda Johnson claimed the double digit pay raises were NEVER part of the budget, and that they would be implementing the salary study in three parts, coordinating with performance evaluations.

Fact is, it was in the budget. The Final Budget Proposal offered in the first week of May showed a 27% increase in the salary of the City Manager’s Office — 5 people plus Ms. Cuffee-Glenn.  That breaks down to 2% for all six members of the office, with an additional 15% of salary money unaccounted for – until now.

People of Suffolk, the City Council & the School Board are hard at work formulating Budget 13-14 NOW!  It is vitally important that we pay attention to what is being approved in the various city commisions & boards.  This will determine the next budget.

If we don’t make our voices heard now, it will be too late.