Debate Highlights…

I hope you got a chance to attend or watch the city council debate forum last Wednesday. In case you didn’t, it is being rebroadcast on Channel 10 every day at 12:00pm and 3:00 pm.

As I stated in my statements, I believe I am the most experienced candidate and that will be a necessity in the next budget cycle.  Here is why:

None of the opponents; Minjares, Tucker and Neal, had any ideas about the budget other than “conducting forensic audits”, insinuating that there is hidden money in the budget. The budget is audited every year by a certified accounting firm. I was considering a forensic audit for the sewer construction costs a few years ago and staff advised if would cost upwards of $200,000.  I knew we did not have the discretionary funds. There is no hidden money in the budget and trying to find some hidden money to solve the budget deficit is “magical thinking”.

We need specific ideas to generate more revenue and continue reducing expenses!

The ONE thing that will be the most effective in addressing our current budget situation is to resolve the ongoing sales tax agreement litigation. These agreements entered into by a previous administration in 2003, prompted the state legislature to prohibit future agreements due to millions in tax revenue leaving the state. Resolving the lawsuits should provide additional revenue that the State Board of Equalization has been holding.

We also need to reduce the operating costs of the sewer plant. Minjares, Tucker and Neal don’t want to change the current contract. Jamey Brooks and I DO. We have consistently been opposed to the sewer plant but it was too late to fix it when we got elected. While we knew that the city had to build a sewer plant, we knew we did not have to build THAT size or type of plant. We knew that there had not been an economic analysis of the impact of the rates on the residents and businesses. We are currently paying for 25% more flow rate than we produce, but the current contract has NO provision for lower flow rates! That’s a bad contract and it needs to be changed.

The debate did substantiate there was a “beef” about the cell tower. This question was asked by the audience. If you remember, we requested that there be a city council public hearing on the item to allow a greater opportunity for the public to learn about the cell tower than one Planning Commission hearing. In fact, the head of the Planning Department felt there would be a community concern on the height and placement of the tower, so instead of keeping the decision in-house, he made an executive decision to move it up to the Commission.  That is typical for most cities. Former Planning Commissioner Tucker and former Planning staff Minjares revealed that they created the controversy because it was their project. These two were more concerned with “protecting their turf” than they were about the public’s right to know about the cell tower. They need to remember that we are here to serve the public, not to protect their turf or to prevent a public hearing because they don’t like a council member! They didn’t complain in 2006 when that city council rejected their decision on the North Fillmore Specific Plan!