Delaware County Sequester…well, sort of.

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$700,000 Plaza with $12,000 bench.

Yesterday Delaware County Council held a special meeting.

They are broke.

The day of financial reckoning  has come (again). Another meeting scheduled for Thursday March 7th at 2:00 PM.   Despite the ridicule of elected officials and their supporters, despite the fact of being  labeled liars, naysayers and obstructionists (as some examples) those following government,  watched as the projections came true.  There is no joy in being right.  It’s really serious.

It’s not some great revelation, or a possessing of superb intelligence.  No, it is nothing more than common sense and basic economics.    You can’t continue spending money you don’t have; you don’t vote on issues without examining for ramifications down the road.   Yet, despite placing the county in financial jeopardy for decades, they never seem to learn.

Some guy named Al Einstein said “always doing what you’ve always done and expecting different results.”  Is this person for real?

Hope beyond hope, the questions being asked will resonate with the elected officials.  So much so, that careful consideration will be given to each and every vote, every dollar being spent and the clear avoidance of repeated mistakes.  Is that unreasonable to ask of our officials?

Last September at the commissioner’s debate, we heard from a seasoned politician, Todd Donati, how well the county was doing.    His optimistic view of county finances were echoed by his county comrades.  He went on to say how when he took office 1-1-09 the county was in bad shape and he continued that same thought on the local newspaper chats.

When Brooke & Bennington left office 12-31-08, the county coffers had a surplus.    Despite the approved 2009 budget not including any new hires, the county moved ahead filling positions and acting contrary to their own ordinance.  A nickel spent here, and a dime spent there until 2009 saw the county running in the red.

Not being deterred  by the financial state,  the county forged on with an out of control business plan that has brought us where we are today.  Mayor Tyler felt Todd Donati was qualified to oversee millions of Muncie City tax dollars.  Of course, a political foot solder like Todd Donati should have some place in the current administration, despite leaving the county in deplorable financial condition.  Party before people.

2011 saw a series of budget meetings and we were constantly reminded “if the city would just pay us, we would be in better shape.”  The city gave the county nearly $2 million dollars, and they weren’t in any better shape.    How many times did we hear the Property Tax Caps were the problem.  Four years to adjust to the revenue decrease.  Unable or unwilling to do so, I really don’t know.

Council member, Mike Jones, proudly proclaimed the county has not borrowed any money.  Oops.  Then back tracked saying the county has not borrowed any money from an institution or paid interest.  The first statement was wrong, the second statement was correct   The only borrowing to my knowledge was from the Rainy Day Fund, and the source of the Rainy Day Fund monies is from you.

So, the county has borrowed from itself (that would be you and me)  and paid no interest  but isn’t likely to replenished the fund either.   I wouldn’t be patting myself on the back…

If the county gets cashed strapped, they create yet another Tax Increment Fund (TIF) which removes even more money from the general fund.    As of January 31, 2013, the TIF balances totaled over $10 million.  Yes, folks $10 million DOLLARS!  TIF if properly used, can be a great economic tool.  Often times it is used as a slush fund for spending.  Keep in mind, the money decreases tax revenue for schools, libraries , every taxing entity including the general funds.   It costs us additional money in interest, too.

A bond indebtedness of  $1,500,000.00 @ 4% interest for five years cost the taxpayers $157,486.80 in interest alone.  The P & I monthly payment is $27,624.76.  Not to mention, if the the tax revenue is withheld from taxing units, they may need to borrow, so on and so forth.  It’s very costly and wasteful use of tax dollars.

If you have the money, retire the debt, stop paying interest and return the money to the general fund.  Solutions that are workable in a county with no money.

The Wheel Tax was created to supplement paving, yet we have no idea how much has been collected or how many additional miles have been paved.  The county demanded an accounting from the city and I am happy they did, but doesn’t task current Muncie Mayor Tyler for the same information.   If we ask such questions of an elected official it may result in being labeled an obstructionist  but never an offer to supply you the information.  No, you must do all the leg work yourself.   DeSoto residents spent nearly two months  last year gathering information that should have been readily available.  DeSoto sewer project 2-8-13 original.

Who really is the obstructionist?

Imagine going to your financial adviser depositing a sum of money and  a few months later asking for an accounting of the bucks?  What if he or she pointed their finger and called you an idiot for asking?  You would withdraw your money, of course.

Unfortunately, you don’t have that luxury with your tax dollars.  So you take the verbal abuse, sometimes getting angry, and wait until the shoe drops.  The shoe has dropped, folks.

Elected officials are not gods, they don’t walk on water,  and they aren’t perfect.  Unfortunately, that hasn’t sunk into their heads.  Should you question where the money is going, their vote or the results of their vote, guaranteed you will be met with hostile comments.  Psycho, obstructionist, Tea Party, liars  and a dozen other adjectives simply because we want to know where our tax dollars are being spent and why.  Government should be open and transparent.  After all we are the ones who fund it.  Nobody else, just us.

What bothers me the most is the intimidation, bullying and personal attacks.  My philosophy has always been the four points outlined below:

  1. Free speech is protected by the 1st Amendment
  2. We have the right to participate in the political process
  3. We have the choice to exercise our civic duties
  4. We are given the privilege to contribute on any public or private forum

A lot of time is spent indulging in the injuring of a person’s reputation, campaigns to shame one into silence, often delving into personal affairs and other “Saul Alinsky” tactics.   For those who are unfamiliar with Alinsky’s political rules here’s the basic definition:

  1. Pick the target
  2. Freeze it
  3. Personalize it 
  4. Polarize it 

Just manage the money, stop blaming us for your spending, think, and learn from past mistakes….don’t repeat those same mistakes and we will all get along just fine.    Please stop calling us liars when clearly we aren’t the ones holding back the truth.

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