Thursday, July 22, 2010

Council raises rates on water, sewer, gas

From Lee Brandon:

I spent all afternoon at City Hall and when I finally got up to talk at about 4:15 p.m., it was after they had confessed that we had no choice but to increase Utility Water Rates by 9.4% and Wastewater Rates by 9.7% or the city will lose its AA credit rating because of our Debt Ratio. I about blew a gasket when hearing... this. I completely changed my talk on the fly to:

Mayor and City Council, My name is Lee Brandon and I live in the Calallen area.Across the country people have been talking a lot about Fiscal Responsibility at the Federal level but Fiscal Responsibility needs to begin at City Hall!

With the state of the economy there have been a number of large layoffs in the area and every morning at our office I see the lobby packed with people filling out applications for work. When I hear you talking about raising rates and raising taxes, I see those faces. Those are the people this will hurt most; the unemployed; those desperately looking for work.

I was distressed to hear that our Debt Ratio is so critical right now that it drastically affects the City’s credit rating and if the Dave Ramsey of City Finance were here he would be going snip-snip, snip-snip, snip-snip, (using my fingers like scissors at each councilman and the Mayor.) We cannot keep starting new capital projects, funding them with more city bonds and debt. We must take drastic measures and plan ahead rather than remain in this reactive mode.

In regards to the City Budget, it is time to take the bitter pill and:1) Drastically Cut spending.
2) Trim the Budget
3) Have a moratorium on approving any new programs or Capital Projects.

The other answers are more long term:

1) Rather than increase Utility Rates and Taxes to fund the short fall and reduce debt, work hard to increase the Revenue Base.
2) Search out and attract new industry and inform the public to quit fighting new industry tooth and nail.

I use to be a Project Engineer for a large company. If people out in the business world ran projects like the City Council has this budget and came up asking for additional money at the completion of the projects, like the City Council is here today, they would be fired.

In summary, Fiscal Responsibility should start here in City Hall today. Please do not raise Utility Rates and please do not Raise Taxes. It is time to bring our City Budget into check, cut spending, and pay down debt. Thank you.

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