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(Baltimore Sun)   Baltimore pays consultant $585,000 to find out why the city's in such rotten financial shape. Consultant: Clearly this issue requires more study, so vote Democratic   (baltimoresun.com) divider line 36
    More: Fail, Baltimore, employee benefit, service providers, out-of-pocket costs  
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760 clicks; posted to Politics » on 19 Feb 2013 at 8:19 AM (1 year ago)   |  Favorite    |   share:  Share on Twitter share via Email Share on Facebook   more»



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2013-02-19 08:26:01 AM
600K is less than .1% of Baltimore's annual 2.3bln operating budget.  If the consultant was able to identify the correctable structural flaws in the city's finances, that's outstanding value.
 
2013-02-19 08:26:14 AM
George W. Bush.  The answer is always George W. Bush.
 
2013-02-19 08:36:09 AM
If you can't be part of the solution, there's money to be made in prolonging the problem.

/Was a consultant for 11
//I was honest, but there are a lot of shady characters
///Sadly, it's nothing like House of Lies
 
2013-02-19 08:37:21 AM

Bored Horde: 600K is less than .1% of Baltimore's annual 2.3bln operating budget.  If the consultant was able to identify the correctable structural flaws in the city's finances, that's outstanding value.


The recommendations they made are very basic.  I am nto seeing any value in the study so far.
 
2013-02-19 08:38:13 AM
So, this is the basic 'damned if you do, damned if you don't' thread eh?

If you pay for good consultants, you get hammered for spending for good consultants.
If you have in house people do it, you're hammered for using city employees clearly on the take instead of outside consultants. AND for overtime for people doing projects outside their normal day to day jobs.
Or if you hire new people you're accused of just making it worse by hiring more city workers.

It takes a lot of well trained (read: expensive) labor to manage the finances of a multibillion dollar enterprise - public or private.

At least there's not accusations that the mayor gave contracts to boyfriends or family members. That's a step up from a lot of cities... And states... And federal politicians... And Baltimore's last mayor.
 
2013-02-19 08:41:34 AM

liam76: Bored Horde: 600K is less than .1% of Baltimore's annual 2.3bln operating budget.  If the consultant was able to identify the correctable structural flaws in the city's finances, that's outstanding value.

The recommendations they made are very basic.  I am nto seeing any value in the study so far.


They already switched health plans for city workers and saved about 60x the cost of the study. That's before the full report comes out.

Sounds like it may be worth it to me. I'll at least take a look at the full report before making a decision.
 
2013-02-19 08:45:15 AM
Buy the box set of The Wire if you want to know what is wrong with Baltimore.
 
2013-02-19 08:47:18 AM
In her State of the City address Monday, Rawlings-Blake used the consultants' findings to call for requiring more city workers to contribute to their retirement fund, charging residents for trash collection, asking firefighters to work longer hours and cutting the city workforce by 10 percent over time. In return, she said, the city could use the savings to raise employee salaries and cut property taxes by 22 percent - 50 cents per $100 of assessed value - over the next decade.

Like the retirement requirement especially with the increased pay.

Like the cutting the work force but paying the remainders better - private companies could learn something.

Hate the trash fee - but the city does offer 'free' bulk trash pick-up so that's saved me some money. I guess it depends on the amount.

Not sure about the firefighter hour extensions.

Like the idea of a property tax reduction - the city needs it.
 
2013-02-19 08:54:02 AM

Deneb81: liam76: Bored Horde: 600K is less than .1% of Baltimore's annual 2.3bln operating budget. If the consultant was able to identify the correctable structural flaws in the city's finances, that's outstanding value.

The recommendations they made are very basic. I am nto seeing any value in the study so far.

They already switched health plans for city workers and saved about 60x the cost of the study. That's before the full report comes out.


If you need a report to make that decision, you should never have anything to do with a financial decision.
 
2013-02-19 08:55:01 AM
Clearly what Baltimore needs to do is start electing Republicans as mayors. Because they can magically fix a city or something.
 
2013-02-19 08:57:45 AM
This surprises no one who has lived or is currently living in the "Greatest City in America."
 
2013-02-19 09:01:42 AM

liam76: Deneb81: liam76: Bored Horde: 600K is less than .1% of Baltimore's annual 2.3bln operating budget. If the consultant was able to identify the correctable structural flaws in the city's finances, that's outstanding value.

The recommendations they made are very basic. I am nto seeing any value in the study so far.

They already switched health plans for city workers and saved about 60x the cost of the study. That's before the full report comes out.

If you need a report to make that decision, you should never have anything to do with a financial decision.


Because all accountants are healthcare policy experts and capable of running comparative studies on similar organizations.
 
2013-02-19 09:03:24 AM
I am sure there are plenty of ways to cut spending that are obvious to a person of even below average intelligence without needing to spend $600k on consultants.  But, cutting those things don't get you re-elected.
 
2013-02-19 09:05:57 AM
Meh. The study in question was a political move to go after pensions and benefits for the police and fire departments.  Any serious talk about the city's finances would have included more audits.  We have a large number of them that haven't seen an audit since the 70s and the city council recently watered down an audit bill to the point of it being useless.
 
2013-02-19 09:09:14 AM

Deneb81: liam76: Deneb81: liam76: Bored Horde: 600K is less than .1% of Baltimore's annual 2.3bln operating budget. If the consultant was able to identify the correctable structural flaws in the city's finances, that's outstanding value.

The recommendations they made are very basic. I am nto seeing any value in the study so far.

They already switched health plans for city workers and saved about 60x the cost of the study. That's before the full report comes out.

If you need a report to make that decision, you should never have anything to do with a financial decision.

Because all accountants are healthcare policy experts and capable of running comparative studies on similar organizations.


You think youneed to be a healthcare policy expert and be capable of running comparative studies to know that making employees pay more for their healthcare will save the employee money?!?!
 
2013-02-19 09:17:53 AM

liam76: Deneb81: liam76: Deneb81: liam76: Bored Horde: 600K is less than .1% of Baltimore's annual 2.3bln operating budget. If the consultant was able to identify the correctable structural flaws in the city's finances, that's outstanding value.

The recommendations they made are very basic. I am nto seeing any value in the study so far.

They already switched health plans for city workers and saved about 60x the cost of the study. That's before the full report comes out.

If you need a report to make that decision, you should never have anything to do with a financial decision.

Because all accountants are healthcare policy experts and capable of running comparative studies on similar organizations.

You think youneed to be a healthcare policy expert and be capable of running comparative studies to know that making employees pay more for their healthcare will save the employee money?!?!


To sell that to labor unions and make sure that you're not driving away any competent employees because of shiat benefits? Yeah.

Major companies of similar size have departments of benefits and compensation experts AND occasionally bring in outside consultants.

And remember, if you don't hire a consultant, you're trusting city employees to makes cost cutting suggestions?
 
2013-02-19 09:19:11 AM

Zeb Hesselgresser: George W. Bush.  The answer is always George W. Bush.


Thank you for tackling that argument that no one made. That was very important what you did there.
 
2013-02-19 09:26:36 AM

SlothB77: I am sure there are plenty of ways to cut spending that are obvious to a person of even below average intelligence without needing to spend $600k on consultants.  But, cutting those things don't get you re-elected.


I already have you flagged as "deep cover liberal mole," but you're summing up what every internet conservative has to say on this, and that is, "I got nuthin'."
 
2013-02-19 09:31:19 AM

Deneb81: To sell that to labor unions and make sure that you're not driving away any competent employees because of shiat benefits? Yeah.


BS.  Labor unions aren;t going to "by it" either way.

It is no more goign to drive away competent employees anymore than no raises or pay cuts are going to, nobody gets an expensive study for those decisions.


Deneb81: Major companies of similar size have departments of benefits and compensation experts AND occasionally bring in outside consultants.


You don't think Baltimore has benefits and compensation experts?

As I said I am fien with ouside consultants if they are goingt o bring soemthing tot he tabel that you couldn;t get on yoru own.  The complete report is outstanding so I am going to reserve my final judgement, but they have no advice so far that college business intern couldn't come up with.

Deneb81: And remember, if you don't hire a consultant, you're trusting city employees to makes cost cutting suggestions?


No I would expect city employees to put together a spread sheet of costs associated with such decisions and let elected officials decide what to do.
 
2013-02-19 09:31:38 AM

Zeb Hesselgresser: George W. Bush.  The answer is always George W. Bush.


the root of the answer is Ronnie Reagan.  that is the time period when this Nation started shipping good american jobs to commie china, and others because the stockholders (owners) wanted more money.  remember the steel industry disappearing overseas during the 80's???

sure you do.

now, this Nation wonders why everything has gone to pot.   man, you've gotta' be on dope to still be wondering after all this time.

communist chinese don't pay american income taxes and they don't spend their money here.
 
2013-02-19 09:38:50 AM
The GOP is doing the same thing here in PA. Political patronage has been around forever
 
2013-02-19 09:39:23 AM

liam76: Deneb81: To sell that to labor unions and make sure that you're not driving away any competent employees because of shiat benefits? Yeah.

BS.  Labor unions aren;t going to "by it" either way.

It is no more goign to drive away competent employees anymore than no raises or pay cuts are going to, nobody gets an expensive study for those decisions.


Deneb81: Major companies of similar size have departments of benefits and compensation experts AND occasionally bring in outside consultants.

You don't think Baltimore has benefits and compensation experts?

As I said I am fien with ouside consultants if they are goingt o bring soemthing tot he tabel that you couldn;t get on yoru own.  The complete report is outstanding so I am going to reserve my final judgement, but they have no advice so far that college business intern couldn't come up with.

Deneb81: And remember, if you don't hire a consultant, you're trusting city employees to makes cost cutting suggestions?

No I would expect city employees to put together a spread sheet of costs associated with such decisions and let elected officials decide what to do.


A fair amount of the compensation is based on the labor contracts, with non-union jobs typically having differing avenues of approval. So an over-arching comp/benefits dept that's not already outsourced AND is in charge of comparative studies? Likely not.

Besides, benefits are one of the few real draws to government work anymore - pay certainly isn't. If you muck that up you WILL lose competent people. And for you to say that a lack of raises and weakened benefits DOESN'T hurt private retention is ridiculous. It's just that a lot of companies don't care. Retention of all but top execs isn't a concern.
 
2013-02-19 09:41:29 AM

verbaltoxin: SlothB77: I am sure there are plenty of ways to cut spending that are obvious to a person of even below average intelligence without needing to spend $600k on consultants.  But, cutting those things don't get you re-elected.

I already have you flagged as "deep cover liberal mole," but you're summing up what every internet conservative has to say on this, and that is, "I got nuthin'."


Because if advice like "the consultants' findings to call for requiring more city workers to contribute to their retirement fund, charging residents for trash collection, asking firefighters to work longer hours and cutting the city workforce by 10 percent over time"  came from a conservative it would have to be because they were Koch Bros. racist operatives who hate America.

But since these recommendations came from outside consultants, it's "Okay then".
 
2013-02-19 09:44:04 AM

Deneb81: A fair amount of the compensation is based on the labor contracts, with non-union jobs typically having differing avenues of approval. So an over-arching comp/benefits dept that's not already outsourced AND is in charge of comparative studies? Likely not.


If they are already outsourcing that, it is a problem.

They don't have to be "in charge": of the study, just feed data to it.

Deneb81: And for you to say that a lack of raises and weakened benefits DOESN'T hurt private retention is ridiculous.


Great point, except I said nothing like that.  Cutting benefits may hurt retention, just as cutting pay or offering no raises, and cities don't fund strudies to make those calls.
 
2013-02-19 09:51:21 AM
I'm not sure about the current mayor.  She wants to start charging residents a separate fee for trash pick-up.  I'm no rocket surgeon, but won't people who don't want to pay the fee just dump their trash in places that it doesn't belong?
 
2013-02-19 09:51:40 AM

Linux_Yes: Zeb Hesselgresser: George W. Bush.  The answer is always George W. Bush.

the root of the answer is Ronnie Reagan.  that is the time period when this Nation started shipping good american jobs to commie china, and others because the stockholders (owners) wanted more money.  remember the steel industry disappearing overseas during the 80's???

sure you do.


I grew up and live in an old steel town.  Blaming Ronald Reagan for the demise of the domestic steel industry is silly.

See, not necessarily in this order, poor management, unions, environmentalists, foreign government subsidies, and new technology.   Personally, I'm not unhappy about it; move that filthy shiat to a developing country.
 
2013-02-19 09:52:02 AM

liam76: Deneb81: A fair amount of the compensation is based on the labor contracts, with non-union jobs typically having differing avenues of approval. So an over-arching comp/benefits dept that's not already outsourced AND is in charge of comparative studies? Likely not.

If they are already outsourcing that, it is a problem.

They don't have to be "in charge": of the study, just feed data to it.

Deneb81: And for you to say that a lack of raises and weakened benefits DOESN'T hurt private retention is ridiculous.

Great point, except I said nothing like that.  Cutting benefits may hurt retention, just as cutting pay or offering no raises, and cities don't fund strudies to make those calls.


Outsourcing benefits is a common private AND public cost-cutting move. Generally I agree - its short sighted. Like the many (mostly but not all Republican backed) sell/lease agreements states and cities have done recently. Sell the building, lease it back long term with maintenance requirements for the government tenant.

But adding an internal dept during a recession and budget cut isn't exactly a good political or financial move. So... Back to outside contractors.
 
2013-02-19 09:52:04 AM
Carcetti is a little shiiiiiiiiiiiiat but I can't blame him on this one. He inherited a school system millions in the red.


/Study it out.
//Omar comin
 
2013-02-19 09:53:52 AM

jcacedit: I'm not sure about the current mayor.  She wants to start charging residents a separate fee for trash pick-up.  I'm no rocket surgeon, but won't people who don't want to pay the fee just dump their trash in places that it doesn't belong?


They'll charge by the house - not just 'on pickup'. They're not going to leave it to the garbage men to document who's dumping and who's not.
 
2013-02-19 10:02:56 AM

Deneb81: But adding an internal dept during a recession and budget cut isn't exactly a good political or financial move. So... Back to outside contractors


Where did I call for adding one?

This is a decsions elected official shoudl be able to make and they shoudl come up with tese level of ideas (presented so far).  If their benefits group is or isn't outsourced they should still be able to feed data to the elected official to make an educacted analysis.
 
2013-02-19 10:14:07 AM
i.lv3.hbo.com
would recommend following the money.
 
2013-02-19 10:17:56 AM

IrateShadow: The study in question was a political move to go after pensions and benefits for the police and fire departments.


I don't know what the pensions are like for cops and firefighters in Baltimore, but in New York they're freakin' sweet - especially in the suburbs. The pensions are calculated based on the last three years' salaries, so what the cops and firefighters do as they close in on retirement is pad out their pay with shiatloads of overtime, then retire with a pension that's greater than what their salary was. One out of ten retired cops and firefighters have six-figure pensions. Westchester, Rockland and Long Island are farking gravy trains - there's even a librarian with a $170,000 pension.

All perfectly legal.

The ones who really want to get greedy get themselves a 'disability' pension on top of whatever they're getting, and if you ask about oversight it's WHY DO YOU HATE THE MEN WHO PUT THEIR LIVES ON THE LINE 9/ELEVENTY WHAAAARRRRR even if they're a Long Island Railroad ticket-taker who was out in Jericho when 9/11 happened.
 
2013-02-19 10:18:48 AM
media.philly.com

You think electing a Republican is going to fix thangs 'round here?
Sheeeeeeeee-it.
 
2013-02-19 11:10:12 AM
Know what, Subs? I'm giving you a point just for using "Democratic."
 
2013-02-19 01:40:33 PM
Baltimore is in rotten shape because there are so few payers of property tax. The city should get back to the old "$1 rowhouse" promotion. I'd want a clause requiring the buyer (or someone in his/her family) to live in the house for 5 years before selling it to rebuild that "neighborhood feeling" I grew up with, where quality of life mattered more than gang turf.

They should also tell Johns Hopkins Hospital Inc. that they own too much of the damn city already: it's a city, dammit, not a "health care campus." Oh, and forgetting that War On Young "Non-White" MenDrugs crap would be good too: you can't "create jobs" without people to fill them, and relying on prison (slave) labor won't help the surrounding area.

The issue is not that the city is "too black," it's that it's too poor. If only the city weren't so preoccupied with chasing every qualified job-seeker past the damn Beltway it might turn that around.

(How's that for free?)
 
2013-02-20 06:58:24 AM
500,000 is peanuts for a consulting body to do a thorough search, especially over a two year period. This is a company doing a comprehensive audit of the city's systems and offices, which would require as least a handful of people working on this. Assuming four people in total (there are probably more) over a two and a half year period to date, these folks are being paid about 100,000 each for highly specialized analysis work (which is reasonable for a specialist accountant in the mid-atlantic).

That seems extremely reasonable for the work required, especially if it saves hundreds of millions over the next few decades.
 
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