Hopefully, Worcester City councilors will do what they need to do to close a projected multi-million dollar municipal budget deficit. So what can Worcester do to save itself from itself?
* How about getting all unions to agree to have their members pony up 25% – instead of 20% – $$$ for municipal employee health insurance? If City of Worcester employees – including the school dept. side – agree to pay 25% of their insurance bills, that relatively small concession (that’s what everyone contributes in the private sector) could save Worcester hundreds of thousands of dollars.
* City of Worcester employees need to say “to hell with Blue Cross Blue Shield” (what they can get if they stick to City of Worcester health insurance plan) and join the state insurance group. It costs a lot less money – and you get a ton of health plans to choose from, many just fine.
* PILOT – Payment in Lieu of Taxes. Get the nonprofits – especially the bigger ones and the colleges – to start making monetary contributions to the City of Worcester for doing business in Worcester for gratis. That’s right – they pay no property taxes and yet get fire trucks, police protection, DPW support, etc, etc. We know their endowments have taken a hit with the market in free fall, but they can – especially Holy Cross and WPI – give us something. City policy wonks say PILOT will only net the city about $1 million. We say – GO FOR IT! It’s a beginning, which is why the collecges are so resistant. And don’t worry, they’ll still be sending us their kids, asking for internships (precious experience for the kiddies).
* Get the freaking Worcester cops off roadway details! Only one other state uses cops to direct traffic while digging, road work is going on. Let’s join the rest of the country and hire flagmen and women. With the Worcester police, you have to hire them for a minimum of four hours. Their pay rate starts at $50/hour. Flag guys and gals get around $30 per hour. That’s saving some serious dough! Also, it gets the police doing what they should be doing: preserving the peace; chasing robbers, drug dealers, etc.
This is the tip of the iceberg. Let’s all put our thinking caps on to save our city!
– Rosalie Tirella