I believe that Stamford should undertake an organizational review/redesign of all of its departments to ensure that the city is structured appropriately to deliver municipal services to its citizens. This should start by aligning all departments around Charter-mandated services and reviewing all job descriptions to require the technological proficiency of all employees thereby creating greater efficiency. The way in which each individual department is structured should also be reviewed. For example, what are the 21st century skill sets needed to perform essential tasks; do the current employees in that department have that skill set? Is the manager qualified to manage and does he/she the necessary skills? Are there enough qualified employees in the department; are there too many? Can good employees be re-trained if they lack the relevant skills needed; if so, what would be the cost? Will natural employee attrition offer opportunities to bring in new talent in the short-to-mid term? Armed with this information, any organization can make appropriate decisions to ensure its success. More to the point, a well-staffed, well-structured city will be in the best position to meet all of its municipal obligations to its citizens and to deliver services in the most cost-efficient way.
I believe that the Board of Finance would benefit from closer interaction with other boards, especially the Board of Representatives, the Board of Education and the Planning Board. Timely communication always makes for better understanding of priorities. For example, the new school superintendent, Dr. Tamu Lucero, has recently started to meet with the finance board on an monthly basis, keeping us informed on special education challenges and how they are affecting the district's operating budget. This model is so much better than only hearing from the Board of Education when they come to present their budget once a year. I would certainly encourage more of this interaction. I would also work to encourage members of the Board of Representatives' fiscal committee members to attend finance board sessions so that its members can hear firsthand the rationale for the votes that the finance board takes and can share that information with their 40 members.
Like most cities and states in the US, Stamford must deal with its rising structural costs and their legacies. These costs are significant piece of operating budgets and include rising employee healthcare costs, pension benefits and OPEB (other post-employment benefits) commitments. As a current member of the Board of Finance and as the chair of the Classified Employees Pension Board, I have worked hard to maximize the returns on our pension investments and worked with the administration to bring our pension obligations as close to "fully-funded as possible. Clearly, a well-performing pension fund will reduce the city's required yearly contributions, thereby reducing taxes. Together with city leadership, I will continue to apply the same efforts to reducing healthcare costs and replacing them with more efficient, cost-effective and better managed plans which will also reduce costs.
I am confident that, as a returning member of the Board of Finance, I will continue to focus on reducing structural costs, funding pension commitments through prudent portfolio investments and supporting progressive employee health coverage.