Apparently, it turns out the city has no shortage of money. This was revealed in a new plan by the city’s hapless mayor, Drew Dilkens. He knew he would face stiff opposition if he agreed to an administration tax grab, called a levy, to pay the city’s share of the new, so-called mega hospital.
The city is almost drowning in cash and can top of its resources with the new 1% property tax levy. It will give the Francis Council more money to waste on frivolous causes.
The administrators, led by Onorio Colucci, a man with no public administration training or known expertise, is ready to remove over $108 million from taxpayers over the next thirteen years. It is not a pleasant thought in a city with 75,000 living in poverty.
Dilkens’ counter offer includes hiving off money from the Samsung airport solar park. This is taxpayer money that should go back to taxpayers. While it will bring in some $10 million over a decade, it could also finance a tax break. Why shouldn’t the people enjoy the fruits of the city’s land?
What was also revealed is the existence of a slush fund the mayor seems to use to reward councillors who vote his way.
Right now it has about $32-million sitting lifeless in an annual debt-reduction fund. It was started by the Francis Council but has continued to be collected, even though the city has paid all the debt it can pay down early. That $32 million equals at least a 10% one-time tax cut.
The mayor has been using it to reward those councillors who, apparently, see his way on things, including the $10-million he doled out to some last December for their pet ward projects. Sure, the money is being used in the city, but it is not being distributed evenly.
That is wrong. It should be given back to taxpayers.
Even dipping into Samsung and the debt-reduction fund, Dilkens said he still needed a tax grab, but his will be less painful when compared to the one Colucci hatched. Dilkens wanted a 1% levy despite having $185 million in reserves.
Reserves simply equate to over taxation, although the bureaucrats will talk logically, in their minds, about the money being needed in case events happen which are beyond their control; like an extra million if nature drops more snow than usual on the city.
Having $185 million in a fund to cover a million dollars in unseen costs is rather extravagant.
It is also a callous slap in the face to taxpayers because it really allows administrators to spend as they wish with no consequences. If they exceed the budget, they simply make a withdrawal.
They get away with this because Council does not force them to live within their budget. The reserve is nothing but a costly insurance for bad management. If the city did the right thing, and pledged to operate within its budget, it could mean an approximate 60% one-time tax break for all taxpayers.
Certainly the money would be better in taxpayers’ hands rather than sitting idle in city coffers.
Given the city has so much money on hand, there should be no levy.
But, Dilkens is one smart cookie. He knows he can’t just raise taxes, but he can bring in a levy; a nice, sugar-coated new tax needed for the hospital.
Most taxpayers, the sheep that they are, will agree with the reasoning and will go ahead and have him dip into their resources to make them poorer. Dilkens will have yet more money to spend as he wishes.
Robert Tuomi can be heard at noon every Thursday co-hosting Talkin’ ‘Bout Windsor on CJAM 99.1 FM. Listen on demand to previous episodes or catch the discussion live and join in. It is also streamed online at CJAM.