During the fall campaign, Lioneld Jordan talked about freezing the salaries of city employees making in excess of $80,000 and looking for ways to cut city expenses. It looks like he was serious. Starting with his own salary as an example, Mayor Jordan will propose a salary cut, rolling back the automatic salary increase and keeping his pay at the 2008 level. The City Council should take him up on that and revise the ordinance that gave the mayor an automatic salary increase based on the raises he doled out to his top aides.
The local newspaper reports that Jordan's reorganization plan also eliminated the position of Gary Dumas, the highest paid city bureaucrat, who was making $115,000 for whatever it was he did. That is a saving that will be more than enough to fund the new Chief of Staff position Jordan has proposed and could produce some additional savings if the salary does not exceed that of the mayor.
Every little bit helps, and City Attorney Kit Williams has also pledged to forego a raise and freeze his own salary at the 2008 level. "I share Mayor Jordan's concerns that the city of Fayetteville will not be immune from what could be substantial and long-term recession," Williams wrote in a memo to the City Council.
This is a start, a good one, that seems to signal a new attitude toward spending and one that should be embraced by the City Council. The Arkansas Department of Finance and Administration said in its monthly revenue report yesterday that job growth has essentially stopped in the state, that sales tax revenue was flat, and that December state revenues were down $20.2 million from 2007.
We will be watching to see if Jordan can successfully surf the recession by cutting fat from the budget to assure essential city services and the unique quality of life we have come to expect. Will he also follow through on his promises to stop spending millions on out of state consultants and to reduce the number of no-bid city contracts? To do so, he will need the help and support of a City Council that understands budget realities and is committed to holding the line on unnecessary spending.