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Im confused by citys fuzzy math

I can't figure out the Forest Grove city manager's math

I can't figure out the Forest Grove city manager's math; it just doesn't make any sense to me.

For example, during this budget 'crisis' he has authorized the reduction of time for some employees, resulting in reduced benefits expenditure. Okay, a reduction - I can understand this. He authorized one position in the engineering department to be reduced to a lower paying position. That employee experienced a $984 per month pay reduction, but here is where the math gets fuzzy: the city manager reclassified the assistant finance director position and increased that position's pay $1,041 a month, taking it from the fund that paid the engineering position that was reduced.

To simplify, the city manager took money from one employee, claiming it was a needed reduction, to balance the budget and then gave it to another employee. The economic coordinator's compensation was also raised by $963 per month, though I am not sure the business he brought to the community quite justifies such a generous increase.

I thought this was a time for reductions and efforts to reduce the budget, not give out ridiculous raises to only a few employees. Pay is public record, so feel free to verify these amounts.

The fuzzy math gets even more interesting when looking at this year's budget. Did you know the city manager deleted the funding to the Forest Grove Senior and Community Center without notifying the center in advance or discussing it with them? It's true. Despite the fact that the city has provided funding to the senior center for years, this year the city manager axed it without a courtesy call or warning to the seniors.

The city manager's budgeting skills really concern me. When you create your personal budget, do you plan to not have to pay all of your bills? For example, do you plan on skipping a mortgage payment with the hope you will get one of those 'skip a payment' coupons in the mail? Michael Sykes authorized the budget to be presented with funding for one less employee in the police department than is actually authorized. If the department remains fully staffed, he will just ask for a budget adjustment when they run out of budgeted money.

Wouldn't it be better to pass a budget with the appropriate funding for the number of employees in the department? His plan will leave the city scrambling around at the last minute trying to scrape up money to pay wages. I just don't understand the city manager's planning.

The pay scale at the police department is completely imbalanced. For example, captains are paid less than the staff they supervise - the result of the city manager's approval of previous wage increases to the staff. The city couldn't hire a captain last year because the position is so underpaid compared to the market median. A candidate for the position pointed this out to the city manager and was offered a higher wage than the position currently pays. The offer from the city manager was still so low the candidate withdrew. By August, the remaining captain position was still vacant, and the pay increase offered to the candidate was never given to the remaining captain.

The city manager talks of reductions that are necessary to balance the budget. The only thing that bothers me about this is I don't see it as a reduction if he is going to give the money to other employees. It would be different if I saw equity in the changes or an increased bottom line, but I don't.

I am starting to worry that Forest Grove is not being managed, but rather mangled.

- Mandy Hayes is a former city employee who lives in Forest Grove.