The number one story for 2009 was the city’s financial woes. I am the first to agree that what we saw transpire over the past year is certainly noteworthy. At the very least entertaining.
When the Star Press article begins: “The year 2009 ended on a high note when the city council and mayor found a way to keep our streetlights on and our animal shelter in business.” (That meeting has since been dubbed the Christmas Miracle.) Had the City Council not created the illegal Rainy Day Fund, this crisis would have never happened. And thank goodness, somebody had the wherewithal to understand it was illegal and to follow-up on it. Surely the DLGF (Department of Local Government Finance) would have uncovered it. $40,000 was all it took to keep the shelter operating.
Now, imagine had the city gone on with the plans to start shutting down street lights only to find the money has always been available. It has already cost us money just in personnel hours to begin researching what lights we could shut off. The Board of Public Works has better things to do then waste countless hours coming up with a solution to a problem which only existed at the behest of City Council. How much did it cost AEP to prepare and supply the data we needed?
You know, the city council has really cost the city a lot of money. Let’s go back to April 2009 when the then acting fire chief and the city controller had spent hours and hours researching the purchase of a much needed aerial truck. Between scouring the state for the equipment by the fire chief, the controller went through the budget trying desperately to find the funding. Think of the man hours spent on this alone. Only to have City Council vote it down and later find President Alison Quirk was working on a solution, with President Todd Donati…Morrison TIF, none the less.
Then we had Mary Jo Barton and her vague complaint of a broken pier at Prairie Creek. Of course, she had no real information. So, the personnel spent hours looking for the fictitious broken pier and when it was not found, the Mayor asked Mrs. Barton if she had more information and would she like to travel to PCR together and find the pier. Mrs. Barton said she was satisfied and no need to make the outing. Obviously, there was no broken pier.
At the recent city council meeting, again, Mrs. Barton was on a rampage about invoices from a local business. (Apparently she has a problem with the city utilizing a company which pays taxes and employs people.) She had the paperwork and held it up proudly. An invoice of less than $600.00 over the 2009 fiscal year. I have no doubt the controller’s office complied with her request for information.
It’s a wonder that the city administration is able to even do 1/10th of what needs to be done when they are tasked to spend so much time on things which do not benefit our city. We all understand that personnel hours are very costly, not to mention precious, and yet the city council has no qualms in squandering away the resources on unwarranted and baseless wild goose chases.
So, before we go patting the city council on the back for coming up with a solution to the problem they themselves created, let’s remember the other wasteful spending. Sure, we don’t have an invoice on how much it costs the Board of Public Works or the Controller’s Office or the MFD or the Parks Department…just for fun, wouldn’t it be great if the citizens could submit an invoice or two at the next city council meeting and request payment by way of no LOIT or property tax reduction?
Since I am on the subject of news worthy topics, the latest editorial making light of the county’s financial situation. As if bad press was the only cause for the county unable to get a 10.5 million dollar loan. Call me crazy, but when the bond rating drops and the spending increases, I would think any financial institution would be just a little hesitant on considering this a sound credit risk.
Happy New Year. Please remember the election is just around the corner. Please get informed and vote for the best candidate, not a retread of what we already have in place.