By Mike Dye
Increasing the City’s economic base, or increasing taxes are only two of the tools in your tool belt. Once again, you have ignored “cutting spending” as a potential option. It seems, “reduce” is a four-letter word, and if one recommends cutting any budget or budget item, they are chastised for not offering valid solutions.
The mayor’s attempt to impede the public input of Chris Story, and other citizens that come into council chambers, is appalling and completely unacceptable. Furthermore, it is even more distressing to see our mayor policing the free speech of our public citizens, yet ignoring the false/misleading statements, and inappropriate accusations made from the pulpit by certain council members. Where is the accountability for our government? By the way, it sounds like there are, in fact, a lot of people feeling the sting of increased water and sewer rates right now (a fact that we highlighted months ago, but were rebuked for by at least one councilman).
I have heard many other suggestions/solutions to help you correct your budget from many in the community – not to mention the editorial in the same Homer Tribune paper as your point of view.
Was Mr. Story speaking about the exorbitant costs of paying for the legal team to travel, or was he speaking of our apparent inability to stay out of court? Both issues deserve significant reflection and analysis.
The fact is, the City is out-of-balance and out-of-touch. You are elected officials, as you say in your opinion piece, but the system is designed so the public may give the council body the input it desperately needs; or remind you there are at least three strategies to deal with your budget issues. The annual election is not the only opportunity the public has to weigh in. The Citizen’s Academy that you tout in your piece would be best-served to instruct all of us who might be, have been or are currently council members, that there are at least three methods of fine tuning your budget and conducting business.
The first option, growing the economic base, is in everyone’s interest. A second option of increasing taxes (non-prepared foods) and raising costs (water bills) is counter-productive to increasing the city’s economic base, especially during times of national or state economic strife that impacts us locally.
Finally, completely ignoring the third option, to reduce spending, is the most disastrous oversight of all.
We all want adequate and improved facilities, progress, increase in standard of living. However, a system of city spending that does not react to the changing economy, and increases its burden on its populace when its citizens can least afford, is misguided. That is what we all have allowed to happen, and it is everyone’s responsibility to participate enough to correct it.
I applaud Chris Story for caring enough to be out there in front, on the firing line, in harm’s way; for caring enough to say, “let’s start fixing this now in a thoughtful, balanced manner, and not continue insisting on a game of pin the tail on the donkey, where the donkey is another small, divided constituent group.
Mike Dye has lived in Homer for 20 years, and is raising four children with his wife, Jennifer.
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