Robbing Peter to pay Paul

Register
Dec 17, 2013

 

The city’s budget problems are being blamed on the state and federal cuts, but the city has to accept some responsibility for the lack of foresight and better planning. It is risky business to start using grants to pay salaries because the outcome can be devastating to the community when the grants no longer exist.
 
At this particular time, the city is in a checkmate position by not having any options open to them but to cut personnel. The city manager needs to make up her mind what needs to be cut and pass those recommendations on to the commissioners as to what she absolutely needs to keep the government functioning. The taxpayer should not have to provide a safety net (tax increase) for poor budget planning. We should not give the city any more money to spend until it realizes the consequences of future expenditures.
 
Employees were given raises for the next three years knowing that there would be a short fall in the budget. Why in the world would the city give out raises knowing the city was going to be a million short in the budget and may not be able to meet the obligation? 
 
If money is committed for a project, there should be money put aside for that particular project; it is called certification of funds. A good example of when to use certification of funds is the Ferndale project. It takes on the appearance that funds were not certified at the time that the ordinance was passed. I say that because it seems the city is looking at what funds to pull the money from to cover the project. The city should not get in the practice of spending money and later try to search out other accounts to cover the expenditure.
 
 Attaching the certification to the ordinance assures the commissioners that the finance director has approved of the expenditure and he has submitted the accounts expected to pay for the expenditure. If no certification is being provided at the time of the ordinance, the city can come up short on the funding for the various projects. 
 
At this point in time, it shouldn’t matter what the citizens and the employees have to say about the budget situation; it is what it is and time is running out. If the city had done proper planning and monitoring of accounts throughout the year, there could have been time for choices and input but the opportunity has passed for now.
 
Until next week, we are in a situation that the employees and the citizens have no choice but to accept the difficult decisions that need to be made to balance the budget.

Comments

Sam

One question for Sharon, you have time to give your opinion (your right) every week and have a forum supplied by the newspaper (their right under freedom of the press). Why not use that time and run for public office where you can express your opinion and maybe make the changes you advocate? Its easy to second guess, but difficult to govern and open yourself to the criticism

T. A. Schwanger

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@Sam

Do you recognize this paragraph?

""Whereas, Assemblies have been frequently dissolved, contrary to the rights of the people, when they attempted to deliberate on grievances; and their dutiful, humble, loyal, and reasonable petitions to the crown for redress, have been repeatedly treated with contempt, by His Majesty's ministers of state"":

In short, each and every American has the legal right to question, opine or submit grievances to their different levels of government, a prerequisite of which is not having to be a part of the vote deciding process. Ms. Johnson's blog spot, along with Mr. Westerhold's and other's, are meant to massage our brains to get us thinking about various issues.

J. Hartman

See Tim, I actually agree with your post. Don't have to always agree, but to get the mind thinking of various issues and various approaches is a good thing.

The Bizness

Same Ol' Sharon complaining about things, and I actually agree with her this week. This however is not massaging my brain, it is actually just stating something obvious. Until the day Sharon runs for an office, I will not enjoy reading the arm chair quarterback blog.

Retiredfirefighter

Idiot she dont question she just complains. Why dont you and her run for city commission and we will see how far you and her get.

Curley

I agree with Sam if you have this much time on your hands why don't you run for public office where you can express your opinions. But maybe you won't like the comments made to you.

Centauri

Some people are better off being political activists. Public servants often are restricted by what they can say or want to do for the general public.

AJ Oliver

I don't always agree with Sharon, but she walks the walk by helping out the community in lots of ways. She has every right to spout off.

Retiredfirefighter

Sharon Johnson does not walk the walk. All she does is talk the talk. If she were to actually walk the walk you would see her name on a ballot to run for city commission. Since i have not seen her name on any ballot all she is to me somebody who all she does is critize and offers no solutions.

Commenter

Great article and great points!

Licorice Schtick

Neither.

Ms. Johnson's article is a cop-out and a typical second guess. She would normally be expected to demand that now that the money's gone, the staff should be cut, but apparently even she doesn't dare touch the third rail of safety services.

All the comments so far are about her, and not the topic.

Johnson is a classic gadfly. Not everyone thinks that's bad thing. Socrates was arguably a gadfly. (I will end the comparison there.) Gadflies are often called a necessary evil.

Too many of Johnson's "questions" are thinly-veiled attacks. That's OK when they're deserved, but to many are not. Defense is only deserved when the gadfly understands the issues and has at least attempted to get the facts before launching the attack/question. That's not always the case.

The Bizness

Well said...

Heck, even in discussion about selling/leasing off the pavilion property she cried and complained even though it meant that some monies could have been brought in.

mimi's word

How about we rent out the old surf's up to the state...fill it with water about knee high...put all the death row inmates and throw in a toaster.

The Bizness

That may kill innocent people

http://www.innocenceproject.org/...

mimi's word

At this point there is toomuch evidence of DNA to have people who are innocent on death row. 20 yrs ago yes I agree. I am so tired of the people who may not have killed anyone but are in NO way a positive impact on society, rap sheets a mile long. I think that if you just cant figure out how to roll as a team enough is enough.

SamAdams

The City should use more restraint and responsibility to avoid being in circumstances like this. And raising taxes isn't only unpopular, but unnecessary. I've mentioned before that there are bills remaining unpaid — property taxes, water bills (Hoppers Mobile Home Park, anybody) and the like. But there are also fines that are never levied in the first place let alone collected!

For example, isn't there a fine if a property owner's grass reaches a certain height (that height, as I recall, is fairly substantial)? I realize the City will eventually cut the grass if the owner doesn't and bill the owner accordingly, but what about the fines? Just in my part of the City, there could be a decent amount of either income for the City and/or appearance improvements if the City would just enforce its own ordinances!

More timely: Isn't there an ordinance on the books that says property owners need to shovel their sidewalks within a certain amount of time after the snow stops falling? Sure, the City could make reasonable exceptions (the little old lady who hasn't yet found somebody to shovel for her, or the homeowner recovering from surgery). But just today I spent a lot more time risking a fall on UNshoveled sidewalks than walking on cleared walkways. Ticketing property owners for such infractions would provide all sorts of income at least until people realized they'd be ticketed if they didn't step up!

Either these ordinances are pointless and should be removed from the books, or they should be enforced. Pick one. Either way, stop crying about money problems until such time as you can show you've REALLY exhausted your legitimate income sources! These are a couple of simple and obvious things, but anybody want to bet there are more?

Retiredfirefighter

Sam you are right. How many unpaid fines are out there? How many unpaid water bills are out there. I mean it may not resolve the whole issue but it would be bringing money into the city coffers.

DEATHnTAXES

Great ideas. Hope to see your name on the ballot in a couple years. Next to Ms. Johnstons. Practice what you speak.

Retiredfirefighter

Moron i would if i could but at least i have ideas. Unlike Mrs. Johnson who has nothing to offer but critcism of the city.

Nemesis

Um, Sam? You're doing it again, falling off the wagon - having a statist relapse.

You're saying the city should increase revenue, i.e. the amount of money it sucks out of the private sector to fund authoritarianism and paternalism, by leaning harder on its subjects (subjects rather than citizens, because you're asking for them to be treated as subjects.)

This represents a call for MORE government, to the extent that you want people prosecuted and fined for not conforming to the dominant ESTHETIC regarding grass length.

The solution is not more revenue, it's less spending. The city spends way too much on programs and initiatives that are not the proper role of government. Patrol, pave, and plow the streets, man the fire stations, and leave people alone, and there will be more than enough money to cover it.

bama

Those making comments about the collection of unpaid fines beware and remember that not too long ago, there was an article in this very paper about the court not being able to toss people in jail for non-payment of fines cause they cannot afford to pay them yet they have all of the expensive toys such as smart phones, great big TV's and all of the latest game consoles that the ordinary working class person does not but they can go out and steal, fight, drink, do a drug of choice and have more kids than they can afford but lets just lay off a few fireman, police officers so they can continue not paying what they owe.

Jack518

I must agree with many of the comments on here, often wondering why the paper gave her this spot. It occurs to me that she must agree with the paper's view on the City of Sandusky and how it is run. I have to agree with the paper and with Sharon's view that the City Manager is doing little to nothing to alleviate the fears of the people of this city and she hasn't been. Frankly, if this city wants to save money. buy her out of her contract and dismiss her NOW.

There are answers to the problems within, but the current comissioners are not thinking straight and perhaps with the new influx it will get somewhat better. I do think this city needs a new manager but not Mrs Haag (no offense to her). They need a professional that knows how a city should be run.

They also need to get some citizen committes going to do some WORK around here instead of costly studies. Who better to know what we need than the people who live here?

Just some thoughts, but in a crisis you move quickly, cut back where you need to, apply for whatever grants are necessary, more money to accommodate what you NEED, not necessarily what you might LIKE and go from there. For once, the needs of the many HAVE to outway the needs of the FEW in this town. I suggest chopping a lot of fat out of this city and doing so swiftly, starting at the top down with those who double dip. iI am sure there are those who might take over given a chance.

J. Hartman

Not sure how many all of us collectively log in hours in this format, but imagine the difference we could make if we collectively did something(action) about the situation instead of complaining about the situation?

Darkhorse

There isn't much one can do about the situation but to complain and hope someone is listening and gets the message. Taxpayers are just plain tired of bad governing and having to make up for it in higher taxes. Mr. Hartman, have you ever thought about running for commissioner?

J. Hartman

Actually, yes I have Darkhorse. No secret I love to talk(probably too much), but I'm smart enough to understand there are certain things I'm just not good at and someone else could be better suited. Mainly public speaking. Heart attack waiting to happen in those situations and for whatever the reason for the fear I can't explain. However, even if public speaking was a good trait, not something I would do because it would jeopardize and limit my availability to do the things I do inside and outside of the area. That's a long list and I would be willing to meet to explain a few of those items. A few things are in the works to provide an NFL funded youth camp next summer along with several other items in the way of community education on several topics. I mean what I say and I say what I mean. Next summer you will thank me for a few things.

Mr. Sorry I'm N...

Go for it, Sharon. Like.

It's a cop out for anyone to write that a citizen is allowed an opinion only if he or she holds office. Seems to be the thinking of a tyrant and shouldn't be used to shut down any of The People. Think that is why centuries ago so many left King George.

Don't sell yourself short and don't let anyone steamroll you into thinking your opinion doesn't matter. Opinions don't always equal complaining. Many are good ideas and may be far ahead of what government has been doing.

The respectful opinion of a single person matters very much. Elected officials--leaders--are in the position to listen mostly--and humbly--to non-office holders. Bad government and bullies turn this on it's head and want to make us feel wrong for voicing an opinion.

Nemesis

The problem is that Sharon seldom brings anything of substance to the conversation. She offers no new insights and no meaningful proposals for solving the problems, just a recitation of what's already been said in news articles.

It would help matters if she were a better writer. She's given to incoherently mashing mismatched clauses together to form run on sentences that don't make sense. Such errors only survive when one fails to make a meaningful effort to proofread, for which there is really no excuse when one is writing semi-professionally at the rate of one short column per week. Another example is her habit of beginning every closing paragraph with "until next week," followed by a restatement of the problem about which she's complaining. The real meaning of such wording is that the problem will only be around until next week, implying it will magically solve itself at the end of the week. For instance, in this column, "Until next week, we are in a situation" means that we are only in the situation until next week. It indicates that she's not willing to put any thought into composing a closing paragraph with any substance, or to think very deeply about the actual meaning of the cliche upon which she's overrelying. It's incumbent upon one who expects the public to take one's opinion seriously, when one has a whole week to compose one's message, to put a better effort into said composition.

You're right, one shouldn't have to run for office to be taken seriously, but one should at least take one's own message seriously enough to present it better than Sharon does.

DEATHnTAXES

Send to Nemesis for proof read/ Problem solved.