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Spending Reduction Sleight of Hand

The City projected a 2016 budget deficit of $6.8 million. The deficit was addressed by the $5 million increase in garbage collection fees, and $1.8 million in additional fees and “spending reductions.” Two of the spending ‘reductions’ were described as a Pilot Vehicle Lease Program, one in the Fire Dept. in the amount of $459,000 for the purchase of a fire truck, and one in the Public Works Dept. in the amount of $364,000 for the purchase of a truck. The vehicles were still acquired, but were leased rather than purchased. The leasing of the vehicles is simply a deferral of expense from the current year into future years, and will result in increased expense to the City over the course of the lease due to interest expense.


$823,000 of the $1.8 million increase in other fees and ‘expense reductions’ was the result of leasing vehicles rather than buying them, reducing current year expenditures but increasing future year and total expenses for the vehicles.


Other than one Councilman who agreed to give the City a ‘pass’ this year, no one on Council even questioned it.


City Manager Doug Krieger offered an “explanation (?)” for the sleight of hand:





It’s not the amount of money at issue here, it’s the lack of honesty. A $6.8 million deficit is addressed through $5 million in taxes and $1.8 million in other fees and expense reductions, and $823,000 of the so-called reductions are a gimmick which reduce the current year expense but actually increase the cost to the taxpayers in the long run. City Council had no problem increasing taxes by $5 million, but could not achieve $1.8 million in additional fees and real cost reductions, so they resorted to accounting gimmicks. This is how they do their job?


Don’t the residents deserve honesty instead of gimmicks?


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