This council effort was, in my opinion, ill timed, ill conceived and certainly rushed when it didn’t need to be. The deadline for a ballot measure to be placed on the ballot by the council was August 10. This allowed a comfortable time window for the council to consider the City budget for the coming fiscal year and to task staff with direction to find the additional funds needed to continue the additional sheriff coverage.
Instead of waiting for the budget process, the three council member voting bloc insisted that the tax decision needed to take place immediately and made assertions that the budget was too tight, money could not be found for this purpose, all of this without being informed by the budget process.
At both May 2018 meetings to consider a tax for increased law enforcement I carefully listed to the residents who showed up to speak. Some spoke specifically against a tax measure, some spoke in favor of more law enforcement, no resident spoke in favor of a tax measure. But the council voting bloc was resolute that there needed to be a tax on the ballot to fund an additional 40 hr deputy and proceeded to give examples of times when it would be warranted – each example offered described times that our sheriff lieutenant had mentioned would not typically be the time of day that the additional coverage would be provided.
The ballot measure would have need 2/3 super majority
support of the voters to pass. I believe that if the measure had any chance of
succeeding there would have been significantly more support for the signature
gatherers and all of the signatures would have been gathered before the
deadline; this logic has been called into question by my colleagues. Putting the
measure on the ballot wasn't the victory that neither the signature gatherers
nor the council bloc thought it was. The petition process was only the initial
step in a process that then needed a compelling campaign to convince the
residents to vote a tax on themselves for a 40 hr deputy that would not have
measurable changed any of the conditions that residents are concerned with -
mail theft, traffic control, automobile break-ins and businesses burglaries. The
additional police protection would sometimes allow for reduced response times
and would have provided flexibility for scheduling.
I am not against increasing law enforcement; rather, I am in support of increased law enforcement. What I am against is choosing to place an ill conceived tax measure on the ballot that had a slim chance of passing and would not have provided a noticeable increase in service in the areas that the residents desired.
the council voting bloc waited to review the budget there could have been an
opportunity to make cuts to provide additional coverage for an interim period of
time. The cuts I proposed were not cuts that a decade's long government employee
would ever embrace since my proposition required agility of thought in how
essential service would be provided in our small City.
For instance, instead of filling an open position that has been difficult to fill for at least four years, causing a cycle of new employees to retrain, I proposed an option to create an administrative pool of all current administrative personnel would learn to provide all administrative services to all departments, increasing cross-training and ideally communication across departments and remove the need to fund this hard to keep filled position right now.
Other cuts I proposed would have stopped the City from hiring for a newly created position before determining how essential it was to providing core services to the residents.
Still other cuts I proposed would have been an assertion that our city must
provide core services, such as law enforcement, before spending on other
nice-to-have programs; especially when these non-essential programs become a
distraction for our staff from their vital focus on the crucial economic
development essential to increase property and sales tax revenue to permanently
fund enhanced law enforcement.
Finally, had the council voting bloc waited for the budget process to finish, the decision of the fire district board would have been known. The council has since removed the measure from the ballot finally believing the slim chance of passing has vanished. Yet, the rhetoric they offered was that leadership was putting that tax on the ballot for the people to decide. Now they have made the decision for the residents by removing it from the ballot.
I propose that leadership is following budget process. I
propose that leadership is listening to ideas that do not align with your own. I
propose that leadership is not coming to a meeting with your mind made up (three
minds made up) about putting a rushed, ill-conceived tax measure on the ballot
and calling it a victory. And finally, I propose that leadership is treating
each other with respect on the dais and off.
I'm asking you for your vote.