Tuesday, August 16, 2011

8-16-2011 Danville City Council Remarks

As a public citizen I would like to point out to the council that I appreciate hearing questions in regards to the spending. I think more citizens would be more involved and have higher confidence if they were aware that that our city's leaders actually did look these expenses over on a weekly basis. As a citizen and a previous candidate for this council I know this information is available to view but I also know most people do note take the time. It's not only our Federal Government that needs to get under control but our local units of governments could be well served by some contraction as well. I know I don't speak for only myself when I Commend Alderman Black and Alderman Williams and the rest for asking questions and getting clarifications on the issues with spending. Not just for getting answers as to where the money is going but for helping to shed light on size and scope our city government.

An $1800 lawnmower for each firehouse, I wouldn't have known that if the question weren't asked. I also purchased a lawnmower this year only mine cost $250. My last mower cost about $200 and it lasted me 5 years. Imagine if each item over $500 had to be fully explained before being voted on, this would extend the time each meeting takes but it would also make city officials and department heads think twice before spending a dollar.

I ask that more of the Alderman make a point to question these expenses as they come up, if for no other reason to make sure they're not hidden. Remember silence equals acceptance.

Personally I'm not interested in hearing pre-packaged or pre-qualified questions and answers. As Alderman Black pointed out, it's not personal, it's about getting the information.

Transparency in government doesn't happen naturally, it only happens when an engaged citizenry and it's elected officials dare to ask those questions. Transparency in government does not come from neatly prepared statements to pre-determined questions but rather off the cuff questions as they arise. It's been said that the people deserve the government they get. If we are to be more concerned about feelings when catching someone off guard then getting answers, then perhaps the city should purchase several teleprompters and run each city council meeting off a script to avoid this from ever happening?

On another topic, in regards to the idea of raising Garbage collection fees from last weeks committee meeting. I want to share my opinion “Absolutely not”.
Only 1 year ago the yard waste fee increased from $10 to $20 and the service was shorted. This meant a 100% increase in the cost for 50% less service.

I was sitting in this room last year when the question of purchasing another truck at a cost of over $200,000 was brought to the attention of the council. I don’t remember ever hearing about a budget deficit due to fuel at that time.
What I do remember is being told that this purchase was going to help save money in the long run. It’s great that the city is saving 20 grand a year on workman’s
compensation claims but that’s a far cry from the $188,000 deficit that was reported.

The solid waste collection is supposed to be a self-sustaining enterprise fund. It was reported that the loans for the solid waste collection totters and trucks are to be paid off faster than anticipated. If the loans are projected to be paid by the Spring of 2012 the money that was going towards the loans' principal and interest is now available for use as maintenance funds for the enterprise account, so I’m having a really hard time understanding why we need the increase.

Also reported was that the solid waste division has about $1.1 million of Capital Improvements it NEEDS to make during the next five years including the purchase of additional land to relocate the yard waste facility. I’m pretty sure Capital Improvements means nice things we’d like to do in the future. If we’re having trouble coming up with $188,000 perhaps spending another 1.1 million might not be such a hot idea. That’s just my opinion, well no, it’s also the opinion of every other voter I’ve spoken to about it during the last week.

Thank you.

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