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No budget, no contract, no chief, no engineer

Anonymous • Mar 19, 2013 at 10:55 AM

My topic this week is the city’s procrastinating posture.

Can anyone make a decision at 222 Meigs Street? What seems to be the problem? Is it the City Manager, the leadership, or both?  

This month marks a year since we started the Police Chief search and the city is still dragging their feet, so much so, that the candidates are opting out one by one. How long does it take to do background checks and interview three candidates, now down to two?     

The union contract has been left to expire with no new contract in sight. The city should have been in negotiations months ago and ready to sign a new contract upon expiration of the old contract. There is no excuse for not having a new contract negotiated in time for the budget process so the increases can be planned into the budget.   

As far as Charter Members’ evaluations, only one member is in the process of being evaluated since the commissioners started the process a month ago. How long does it take for the commissioners to get through one evaluation? The leadership seems reluctant to do any evaluation on the City Manager. The public needs to know how she is performing and what problems she is experiencing in trying to perform her duties. Raises should not be automatically given to the City Manager or to any employee without an evaluation.

The budget is another problem. I sometimes wonder if it is the officials, and not the City Manager, that has the problem. Ms. Ard handed the budget cuts to the commission during the budget workshop. The commission met for two hours in the budget meeting and decided to cut nothing before one commissioner, who said nothing the whole time, decided to call an adjournment prematurely before cuts were finalized. How does the City Manager try to do her job when the leadership is incapable of giving any guidance? Even the Finance Committee canceled their budget meeting and will not reschedule before the final budget is presented to the commissioners at the next commission meeting. It doesn’t look very hopeful that there will be a balanced budget.

The commissioners need to take a hands-off approach to Ms. Ard and allow her to manage. If the commissioners are hesitant about giving Ms. Ard her rightful authority over the day-to-day operations, then the city is going to continue to have problems. She should know her staff well enough to know what cuts need to be made and she should be able to justify the cuts to the commissioners so they feel comfortable with her decision.   

A year ago, the engineer informed the city he would be leaving at the end of the year. Thirteen months have passed since the notification and still no engineer.

Until next week, silence is not an option for commissioners sitting at the commission table and not even attempting to represent the taxpayer. We are headed into a full-blown crisis if the habitual procrastination doesn’t end soon.

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