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Monday nights Auburn City Council meeting had all of the trappings of a largely administrative agenda until one proposal raised process questions and spurred a 3-2 vote.
The two-part proposal, floored by Councilman Kevin Hanley, centered on the need to establish 2020 budgeting goals, a well-defined process for performance-based budgeting as well as public budgeting workshops.
While council members agreed on the validity of the proposal, there was at some points heated discussion between the members about the appropriate vetting process for the creation of citywide fiscal goals.
Hanley outlined his motivation for the proposal stating concerns about CalPERS pension payments, staff healthcare cost increases, road maintenance and the potential reintroduction of Senate Bill 983, otherwise known as the cardlock legislation.
Senate Bill 983 threatened the citys fuel tax revenues from local Flyers Energy by proposing the money be sent to other jurisdictions based on the location of cardlock stations.
Contention arose when Councilmen Bill Kirby and Mike Holmes faced off about the role of the Administrative Services Committee and the need to vet the proposal through the sporadically convened committee.
Kirby said he supported the goals and tools the proposal would provide the city, but said he wanted the input of the committee and public before a council vote.
While I totally appreciate the intent and agree with a lot of it, I still think we have a new city manager and a new finance director who have not thoroughly vetted this, an Administrative Services Committee and a public that has not vetted this and I think it needs to go through that process, Kirby said.
Holmes was also in support of the proposal and public input, but said the proposal would give guidance as to the role of the committee.
A number of these things have been on our minds for many years for some of us and I think its time to move forward with that rather than sending it back to a committee that has no real defined role other than maybe deciding when the annual Christmas party is going to take place, Holmes said.
Kirby, obviously offended by the comment, said, That is utter horse [expletive].
Hanley said metrics and milestones could easily be adjusted during a future council session.
We dont have a process, so this has been my attempt to try to create a process, Hanley said. Theyre milestones, theyre goals, they can be changed. They are not binding.
Mayor Bridget Powers, Councilmen Keith Nesbitt and Kirby voted in support of the amendment which would define performance-based budgeting, organize budget workshops and create uniform performance metrics for city departments, but would continue discussion of 2020 budgeting goals for a later time.
The council unanimously authorized the purchase of two fleet vehicles and the sublease for United Natural Foods at the Auburn Municipal Airport Industrial Park.
The meeting was adjourned in honor of slain Placer County Sheriffs Office Deputy Michael David Davis Jr. and Sacramento County Sheriffs Office Deputy Danny Oliver.
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Despite an improving economy and a falling national unemployment rate, some American workers are still struggling to dig out from under sky-high debt that piled up during the Great Recession.
One of the best and obvious ways to reduce debt is to stick to a budget, says New Jersey-based financial expert Tiffany Aliche, also known as the Budgetnista and author of The One Week Budget.
Put yourself on an allowance
While obvious, it's not always easy to stick to a budget. One trick, she says, is to give yourself an allowance like you're 15 years old again.
"Track your spending by keeping an itemized list of expenditures, including what you spend on grooming, groceries, entertainment, etc.," she told NewsOne.
Aliche, 35, knows all about pared down spending and sticking to a budget. In 2009, she lost her job of seven years as a preschool teacher when the school closed after funding cuts. As her savings dwindled, she was forced to move back in with her parents in order to save money.
While at home, she regained her economic footing and launched the Budgetnista after an aggressive social media marketing campaign. Eventually, she began to make more than she earned as a teacher.
"I learned a lot during that time," Aliche said. "I learned to save and create during a crisis. But I also learned early to manage money." She had a great mentor: Her father, who emigrated to the US from Nigeria and holds degrees in both finance and economics. He worked for 30 years as the executive director of a New Jersey-based nonprofit.
"I grew up in a financial literate household," she said. "My dad taught us budgeting."
Automate your bill-paying
Besides giving yourself an allowance, Aliche advocates setting up separate accounts for bills and other types of spending to help you stick to a budget. Here is how to make it work: Write down monthly totals for everything, including rent, cell phone, groceries, entertainment, and how much you spend on breakfast each morning.
Next, set up an account for bill paying and another one for other expenditures.
To organize your bill-paying, figure out your pay cycle. If it's every two weeks, separate bills into two categories: A for the beginning of the month and B for the end of the month. Then time money transfers into the bills account to cover categories A and B.
"My total monthly bills are about 3,000 and I'm bill heavy, or have due dates, at the beginning of the month," she said. "So I know by the first of the month, I need about $2,500 sitting in my bills account and about $500 by the end of the month. All of the money is automatically transferred into my bills account in time for automatic payment withdrawals."
Withdraw money for other expenditures from your spending account, Aliche advises.
SEE ALSO: Do You Have An Attitude About Money? Change It In 10 Easy Steps
Automation is key. That means you want payments for your rent, car, credit cards and other loans to be automatically withdrawn from your bills account on their respective due dates, she said.
"Automation is the new discipline," said Aliche, who is a disciple of the process. "The reason people fall off budget is because of overspending. People also rack up late fees because they fail to make payments on time. This process helps people to pay their bills on time and lets them to forget about it."
The process also allows you to swipe your debit card without worrying about whether you've accidentally spent your rent money on your hair or dinner, she said. "I'm about to be 35 and I started automatic bill payments when I was 25. Trust me; it works."
Now, are you ready to stick to your budget?
Watch the video below if you also want advice for boosting your credit score.Your browser does not support iframes.
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The General Assembly has asked six state departments to conduct audits that will provide legislators with more details, potentially saving taxpayers money during the budgeting process.
But Gov. Pat McCrorys new budget director, Lee Roberts, said the agencies in question were already audited a combined 501 times in the last year, at a cost of more than $17 million.
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If the residents of City Council District 6 get their way, there could be a book-lending van that also collects compost driving through the streets of the Upper West Side in the next couple of years.
That proposal was one of the nearly 400 offered up as part of City Council member Helen Rosenthalâs participatory budgeting project over the course of seven meetings held in the district since late September.
Tuesday night marked the last official meeting for brainstorming ideas for spending $1 million of discretionary funds in District 6, though the deadline for submitting ideas will end on Nov. 1. The list of project ideas will be narrowed down and presented to the community and voted on in March.
This is the third year of participatory budgeting in New York City and the biggest yet, with 24 council districts participating in comparison to 10 last year. In District 6, Rosenthalâs constituents will propose capital spending projectsâeach costing at least $35,000âand four to five of those will be funded.
At Tuesdayâs event, about 15 constituents gathered around two tables to learn about the process and the types of projects they could propose and then brainstorm ideas. The ideas from the seven meetings included increased signage alerting drivers of pedestrians, an expanded Hudson River Greenway, and the construction of bus shelters at stops that do not have them currently.
âThis year I want to ask you what you think. You live in our communityâwhat do you think we should spend our capital funds on?â Rosenthal asked her constituents at the meeting on Sunday, Oct. 19.
Michelle van Vlaanderen, a resident of West 93rd Street, took part in the group discussion on Tuesday, emphasizing her unhappiness with what she sees as a lack of safety on the Hudson River Greenway.
âI was not really prepared, I didnât do my homework,â van Vlaanderen said, adding that it was her first time at a participatory budgeting event, but she hoped that this might be a place to solve some problems she sees in the neighborhood. âI have some concerns of my own, which are mostly about bicycle traffic as well as car traffic and the safety of pedestrians. Right now nobody knows how to handle that. I certainly donât.â
Steve Anderson of the Theodore Roosevelt Park Neighborhood Association and Barbara Adler, executive director of the Columbus Avenue Business Improvement District came to Tuesdayâs meeting to jointly present an idea for improving the exterior of Theodore Roosevelt Park on 81st Street and Columbus Avenue, next to the Museum of Natural History.
âThere are so many activities happening around the museum. There are hundreds of thousands of people walking on those sidewalks,â Anderson said on Tuesday night, adding that the perimeter of the park is empty. âThereâs nothing planted. Itâs dirt, plain dirt. What happens is that every visiting dog decides to stop and pay their respects.â
Anderson said that he and Adler envision a more complete upgrade to the park with the planting of flowers and the addition of tree guards, which they estimate would cost a total of $250,000. Adler added that they had begun securing funds for this plan from SoirÃe in the Park, a benefit that took place in the park in May.
Mark Diller, a member of Community Board 7 and a district committee member for Rosenthalâs project, attended all seven neighborhood assemblies. He helped write down the ideas of one of the groups on Tuesday night.
âHearing from our community first hand, youâre always amazed at just how smart our neighbors are. So many people come with so many ideas that benefit a wide swath of their neighborhood,â Diller said. âIt proves what is probably a tired adage, that you ask somebody who lives in an area what is needed, theyâre going to have insightful, very well thought out, sometimes meticulously detailed descriptions of needs.â
Rosenthal encouraged the constituents who came to contribute ideas to try to separate the participatory budgeting process from the rest of what they know about city politics.
âJust think of this as you are getting engaged in democracy and itâs something a little different than how weâve thought about budgeting or about how city government works,â Rosenthal told the group on Tuesday. âPut aside your suspicions or doubts about the system and just enjoy and absorb what youâre about to learn.â
Angela Bentley and Garrett Donnelly contributed reporting.