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Tiger Team : Establish a Financial Oversight Board (FOB)


Tiger Team : Establish a Financial Oversight Board (FOB)

Tiger Team Recommendation of establishing a Financial Oversight Board  has been hotly debated by readers

Our work on this Committee has convinced us that there is a need for continued citizen involvement, oversight and leadership in Ridgewood’s financial matters in conjunction with the Village Council and Village management. The first and most important recommendation of our committee is that a permanent Financial Oversight Board (FOB) comprised of citizens be established by March 31, 2013, to facilitate evaluation and/or implementation of recommendation within this report, particularly those related to the 2013 budget process. The committee is aware that the Faulkner Act form of government in Ridgewood gives the Village Manager executive power over each department in the Village. However, we believe that the Village Council cedes too much autonomy to Village management. The Village Manager is the “day to day” CEO. But, the Village Council is the “Board of Directors”, to which the Village Manager is accountable. They are responsible for the funding of all Village operations and are, ultimately, responsible for the budget and Village governance. Unfortunately, the Village Council members do not have the time necessary to develop sufficient expertise in many areas of Village management, particularly with complex financial and budgetary issues. As a result the Village Council often relies on brief summaries and recommendations from the Village Manager to inform their decisions, and may not gain sufficient understanding of the implications of their decisions or what questions to ask. Our sense is that Village management perpetuates this dynamic in some instances. We expect that some Village Council members will learn about some details of the Village’s finances, for the first time, through the information contained in this report. Our opinion is that the Village Council has an obligation to establish clear directives for Village management take a more proactive oversight role.

Thus, the main purpose of the FOB would be to augment the financial expertise of both the Village management and the Village Council. Similar to the Planning Board, the FOB would provide expertise and continuity across election cycles and serve as a valuable resource for the Village Council, particularly for newly elected Council members. FOB members should have significant financial management, budget management,and senior executive commercial or governmental management experience. The important recommendations in this report, as well as , areas identified for further study require that there be a group of citizens to support and audit the work being done by the Village. Because Village taxpayers bear the full burden of the Village and BOE budgets, and the BOE share of property taxes is approximately twice that of the Village share, we hope that the FOB would eventually also provide support and oversight to the BOE. This would also serve to facilitate synergies between the Village and the BOE that do not exist today.



25 thoughts on “Tiger Team : Establish a Financial Oversight Board (FOB)

  1. FOB = Shadow Government.

    1. Shadow Govt???? Please explain you fears over having greater oversight, transparency and idea generation over the village’s finances.

  2. This is great. Do it ASAP.

  3. Excellent idea.

  4. this was debated on another thread why is it here?

  5. Where is Obama’s FOB ?
    that’s what is really needed…

  6. We need to be very careful before “appointing” residents to a financial oversight board. Do other towns have FOBs? I have seen this in private schools and similar entities.

    What will the charter for this board look like? Will they be like the Project Pride Committee or like the planning board?

    How much weight should their recommendations carry? We elect a village council. How will the FOB be accountable to the residents who did not elect them?

    When it comes to the financial health of the town I do not want to leave it to the unelected representatives.

    1. It has been clearly explained that the FOB is only an advisory body and would have no authority to act on anything. The role would simply be to assist and inform the Village Council and Village Management. Thus, there is no risk of “leaving the financial health of the town to unelected officials”.

      1. Then they have done their job and stop complaining that their recommendations are not being implemented. They are just an advisory body. The Village is not obligated to do anything that they recommend.

  7. Why was this group commisioned to scrutinize the municipal budget when the boe’s budget is almost twice what the municipal budget is? This doesn’t make sense, and I’m willing to bet the boe’s budget and work contracts never see inspection from any group. (other than the council for review if the referendum fails)

    1. The group specifically indicated in their recommendation that they hope the role of the FOB would be exanded to work with the BOE in the future. This should absolutely happen. But, it needs to be established at the municipal level before that can happen.

  8. yes look at the b o e first. that’s big money. 90,mill or so.

  9. If you believe the Village Council cedes too much power to the Village Manager then run for Village Council and see if you can do a better job.

    Otherwise, thanks for your opinion and review, but in our system of Government you have no place.

    1. In our system of government elected officials are accountable to the residents that they serve – whether or not I voted for that person. Everyone who disagrees with the council does not need to run for council next time there is an open seat.

      As a taxpayer I have a right to express my opinion about my elected government.

  10. # 10 why? Why is it neccesary for the tiger team or any other team to start with municipal govt. first when the two budgets have an estimated 40 mil. difference between them, the budget for the boe is higher than the total tax levy of some towns.

    1. #13 The Village Council already took the first step to ask a group of residents to conduct due diligence regarding village finances and operations. That for 4-5 months and they have already presented their conclusions. In the next couple of months the Village Council is finalizing the 2013 Budget and, according to the report, there are a number of contracts that are up for negotiation in the next couple of years. Some things can probably be acted upon very quickly. But, it will undoubtedly take time for a FOB to get rolling in other areas. So, the opportunity to take advantage of this in the village is right now.

      While it is true that the BOE budget is bigger, there are actually fewer areas of opportunity for big expense reduction outside of the REA contract, which was just renewed a few months ago, and there is no revenue potential. So, there may actually be much less potential for big savings in the BOE budget any time in the foreseeable future. While it would be great for a future FOB to work with the BOE to find the potential savings that may exist, the BOE must embrace the process. There is no indication that they will do so. So, how would you suggest that an FOB be created to look at the BOE budget?

      In addition, I imagine that any group looking at the BOE budget would be starting from scratch. Given that it took the Mayor’s committe 4-5 months to conduct their due diligence and, by their own admission, just scratched the surface in that time, it is unlikely that any results could be achieved from the BOE budget until next year.

      The FOB ought to be able to get up an running quickly with the village, satrting with the recommendations that have already been made, and if the it produces good results that may encourage the BOE to embrace the process in the future. For now, we ought to take advantage of the work that has already been done to realize meaningful benefits right away.

      1. Why id the FOB suddenly more important than our elected represenatives? They made their recommendations but we are not obligated to carry them all out. We know that employee contracts are the place to make a difference. We have the report. Now take the savings line by line and divide be the number of property tax payers. Maybe this will help to move the council.

        I looked at the report. The biggest problems are salaries, pensions and healthcare expenses – just like the federal government. Without real change in these areas we will not see any tax relief. If we focus on the small savings we are will be going through this to save $100/year in taxes.

        Healthcare and pensions keep rising without any ceiling. Focus on the big impact changes.

        How do similar towns make use of financila oversight boards? What has their experience been?

  11. the b o e is so out of control with the spending . and the council needs to go after them. it is not right that we keep cutting the village budget and we hurt services in town and the b o e get’s what ever they like. wake up mayor and council we vote for u so we don’t lose service’s. wake up.

  12. There are $millions in savings in the municipal budget that are possible without cutting services. We may even be able to improve services, despite smaller expenditures. Don’t fall for the same old fear-mongering sound bites. All it takes is political will to make tough decisions.

  13. # 18 detail them please.

  14. Great — let’s fight over whether the Village budget or the school budget is bigger — and in the process do absolutely nothing. For my part, I am urging Village council to take action.

  15. There is no doubt that the boe budget is almost, if not double,that of the municpal budget, by some reports over 90 million dollars. #18 states there are millions in savings to be had from the municipal budget which is around 45 million OK show us! If you can’t detail it provide an outline.

  16. Ok #19 detail or out line the millions of savings in the municipal budget. Please!

  17. Are the millions in savings guaranteed? Sometimes change does not produce the results expected. Regional 911.

    Personnel costs are the only place to make significant change.

  18. Go after the health care providers and regulate the you’ll find good savings there. The
    cops already restructured their contract twice to make it easier to higher mor people but the hired 2 when it said it was going to hire 4 and never hired anyone else. A lieut. retire in oct and he was at top pay. Now that he’s gone you could hire 3 guys with his salary savings. That would drop the ot and help staff the dept.

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