Budget and Finance

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My Position

  

We know that taxes are one of the two things they say we can’t avoid (the other being death). But we as a City can make taxes as painless as possible.


The city gets a substantial part of its revenue from fines, fees and taxes. Fees generally go towards covering actual costs of services and fines are applied to someone who has done something wrong. 

We get a substantial amount of revenue from sales tax. This is generally a good source of revenue for the City because a lot of what is spent in the City is spent by those who live outside of the boundaries. So, we get the benefit off sales tax revenue income from non-residents. A special PARAT sales tax was approved by the voters several years ago and brings in substantial revenue that we have used to construct major improvements in parks.


Property taxes on the City level are one thing that we have complete control over. I have consistently opposed strong efforts to raise property tax revenue and will always oppose these types of tax increases unless it is demonstrated that there is a critical government function that will suffer as a result. Usually, a large property tax increase has its root cause in poor planning and I watch to ensure that we as a City don’t enter into such a circumstance.

Taxes and Revenue

Nearly every year since I have been on the City Council, there has been a proposal to raise the revenue received from property taxes. State law requires the property tax rate to remain at a value so that the amount of property tax a property owner pays does not increase, even if the value of the property increases. This is to protect the property owner from subtle increases in revenue. If the value of a house goes up and the City retains the current rate, the amount of money the City receives in property tax increases.


The proposal has been to retain the current rate, resulting in increased revenue to the City. I’ve always been against the proposal in spite of strong opposition and ominous predictions from other elected officials. I have been told that not increasing tax revenue would cause significant shortages in the next and coming years. Indeed, some have said that property taxes should increase every year. My position is that if we know what the shortages are to be, then we should plan for them but not just raise taxes because we think in the future we may need the money. 


In the end, we have not created a tax revenue increase and no financial crisis has arisen. In fact, we have kept our tradition of conservative budgets and have run surpluses every year.


I’ve always been able to prevail but residents and businesses need a strong voice for fiscal conservatism to keep those who think that taxes should increase every year from prevailing.


Let me be your voice to keep taxes low.


Expenses and Budget

I have, and commit to continue, to go through each year’s City budget line by line to satisfy myself that expenses are justified and meet my understanding of a Government function. In general the City budget is well thought out and presented and there are few exceptions that I have with it. I also respect the professional staff who put together the budget and whom I have confidence in. It is a lot of work and I feel that they have the best interests of the City in their minds as they develop the budget to present to the Council.


I will always take my duty of being a fiscal officer seriously and will continue to carefully review the budget each year.

Examples

Here are examples of problems I’ve had with the budget. I’ve not listed efforts to where I’ve been successful in avoiding unnecessary costs, but there are many examples of that nature.

  • We spent around $250,000 on a street sweeper. Studies showed that it would take several years before the purchase price would equal the amount we would spend on renting one as needed or having a service provided. It went through over my strong opposition. And now we are faced with yearly operating expenses that would be covered by rentals or contracted services. These expenses include routine and other maintenance, storage, disposal of materials, and other expenses.
  • I recognize that our City staff needs to be fairly compensated and we need to have competitive salary and benefit packages to obtain and retain qualified staff. I’ve supported regular Cost of Living increases for City employees and other increases to help our salary structure to be competitive. I’ve been against, though, proposed significant increases in health insurance and other benefits that are well beyond non-governmental standards. Labor costs are a large share of our budget and continued, double-digit increases in medical and other benefits are not sustainable. Through my efforts and others, the increase in benefits has been substantially reduced from initial proposals, although still not in line with what a typical business offers their employees
  • I believe that elected officials are public servants and as such, should derive their benefit from the concept of service with minimal financial remuneration. Other elected officials have felt differently and feel that elected officials should be compensated for time spent in their duties, to the point where they believe qualified candidates will not run for the positions unless adequately compensated for their time. My position is that if someone is running because they get compensation, they should make that known and I won’t support them.
  • I led the opposition to a recent attempt to increase Council stipends of $740 per month, doing my own independent research into compensation packages of similar municipalities and finding us well above average. After reviewing my data, the attitude of the Council changed and the increase was not passed.
  • I’m against elected officials receiving insurance and other benefits as if they were fulltime employees. The cost for all those benefits is around $1300 per month per elected official receiving them, for a total of about $70,000 per year. I personally do not select those benefits, not because they would not be helpful (my company does not provide good medical benefits) but because I disagree with the principle. I’ve not been successful in my attempts to remove this benefit.
  • I recently expressed my opposition to elected officials receiving new electronic devices every two years (i.e. tablets). The devises that these acquisitions replace are not returned to the City and become the Elected Officials personal possessions. I don’t know of any other entity where electronic devises are replaced every two years. In my profession I use a laptop all day every day that is several years old; yet the taxpayers provide a new electronic devise for me every two years that is used a few hours a week.

My Commitment

I'm deeply concerned about taxes and revenue and expenditures.Whenever I see an expenditure, I think of my neighbors and the sacrifice they make to pay taxes. I think in my mind, "If I asked them if I could spend their money on this or that would they agree?" Even if the amount is small, it is still significant to those who pay it.


Often I have heard other elected officials say, "It is only $20 more." That expression bothers me greatly, because for me and others, $20 is a lot of money that I would prefer to keep.


Please support me in my efforts to keep taxes and expenses low. I have the experience to go through a budget and find expenses that are excessive or unnecessary.