It is the season for the elected officials to state they will listen to the people because the citizens are at the top of the organization chart. I guess we have all been there before and listened to the same old speeches. The speeches never seem to change with promises being made that the candidates, most likely, will not be able to deliver.
The little guy seems to get lost in the shuffle between the time the candidates are elected in and the time the officials need your vote once again. The focus is all on downtown and what the business people need from the city to succeed. We all realize that business is important to our city, but I think the city spends way too much time appeasing the business people and not enough time meeting the needs of the little guy as well.
According to the city manager’s report, the manager meets with the downtown business people once a month to hear what they would like for the city, but where does the little guy go to voice his concerns? Do we even have a voice? In the past, the commissioners entertained coffee meetings that were being held once a month for the residents which have been discontinued. It is a shame that the commissioners cannot get themselves out into the public to meet their constituents on a regular basis.
The candidates talk about decreasing our elected representatives from seven down to five, because they think they can get more done. Having fewer elected representatives only serves one purpose and that is to rubber stamp every piece of legislation without having it questioned.
Some candidates, even before they get into office, would like to increase the commissioners’ salaries while at the same time reduce the number of commissioners. Has anyone gone to a job interview and asked for a raise before they even get the job? For one thing, the city doesn’t have the money to increase any raises. The candidates need to be respectful and sensitive to the budget situation we are in. There is a possibility that the 2014 budget will come up short by about one million dollars.
As for the possibility of raising the income tax when the candidates are elected, I see the increase happening because it seems to be the only way to balance a budget these days instead of trying to keep the spending in check. Does anyone care about the tremendous 67 million dollars, plus, that the city owes in debt? If the city would work to keep the debt down, they would have enough revenue to do things they would like to accomplish instead of having to spend the money on paying off loans. Three million dollars is kept in reserve in the General Fund which cannot be touched because of the city's obligation of debt. The city’s debt situation is restricting our money flow tremendously.
Until next week, the only way the above issues can be placed on the ballot is through the petition process, Charter Review, or directly by the City Commissioners. Any decision on the issues must be finalized by the vote of the people.