WESTERHOLD: Genius, Matt Kline. Pure genius

Sandusky city manager Matt Kline and finance director Ed Widman are on the brink of a breakthrough to solve the city's ever escalati
Sandusky Register Staff
May 24, 2010

 

Sandusky city manager Matt Kline and finance director Ed Widman are on the brink of a breakthrough to solve the city's ever escalating fiscal crisis: They want to increase the income tax residents and people who work in the city pay by 50 percent.

Wow. That's pure genius. Thanks for brainstorming this and getting at something that's never been tried before. And it makes such perfect sense to transfer the burden onto taxpayers. Yes. Pure genius.

But, just for kicks, let's review some of the expenses the city refuses to make public or provide adequate detail to explain:

- City officials ignore resident complaints for years about corruption in the federal housing program that led to more than $1 million in costs for 47 homeowners, whose properties were damaged or destroyed in a scheme to ripoff the federal grant program operated by the city. Estimated total cost to city taxpayers, $2.5 million.

- Kline allegedly gropes police Chief Kim Nuesse in three separate incidents. Nuesse says she backed Kline down twice when he touched her inappropriately. Kline eventually denies the allegations but acknowledges he rubbed on Nuesse during the third alleged incident, which did not occur behind closed doors. Kline explains it was just a joke when he rubbed Nuesse's neck during a command meeting with her top lieutenants. Nuesse contends she sought a meeting with the city law director but was forced -- after Kline suspended her -- to file a complaint with the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. After an investigation, the EEOC approves a lawsuit against Kline and the city. Total estimated cost to taxpayers related to the EEOC lawsuit, $1.5 million. (But remember, the sky's the limit as the federal lawsuit moves forward.)

- Kline launches the Nuesse integrity probe just weeks after allegedly groping the police chief. Kline says he has concerns about Nuesse's "relationship with the truth." The city hires private investigators, two private law firms, and a handy retired judge at a total estimated cost of $1 million.

- Kline hires a part-time assistantat a $90,000 salary to take over responsibilities traditionally handled by the city manager.

- Kline gives OK for police officers to work 12-hour schedules without providing a cost-benefit analysis. Estimated cost in lost productitvity and missed opportuniy, $500,000.

There, you have it. Just the tip of the iceberg, I fear, of what lies beneath the crud of secrecy in which the city operates.

So yes, the plan to raise the city income taxes residents and workers pay is a perfect solution to this fiscal problem nobody could have predicted or stopped from happening. Yes, it makes perfect sense. Kline and Widman, you guys are geniuses. Thanks for serving our happy community.

City Commissioner Bob Warner is sure it's a good plan. He called it the only option. "I don't want to raise taxes. But the reality is what it is."

Yo, commissioner: It might be a good idea to thoroughly review all the options before deciding that there aren't any options. But, again, thanks for serving our happy community.