As of Thursday, July 17, 2014
To the editor:
(Edited for length.)
About a year ago I decided I wouldn’t write to The Chronicle because, even though several citizens expressed agreement with my views, nothing changed at City Hall. Our leaders continue to be incapable of sorting out which projects are absolutely necessary from those that are truly needed but not absolutely necessary and those which simply would be nice.
I feel the leadership has already decided what they want to do. When they need funding, they have no trouble finding the money using grant money, urban renewal funds, etc. When something like road maintenance comes up their answer is to raise taxes, fees or other sources. I can’t recall them not being able to find money.
Leaders continue to raise fees and taxes and when they get some unbudgeted income they spend it elsewhere. For instance, the money from Google to the city and county could have been designated for road repairs. Instead, it was used for other purposes. Now the city wants to raise the gas tax and the county is looking at a road fee.
I continue to find fault with the Google deal. I haven’t been convinced there are at least 88 people from the local area working there and being paid the required salary level. I met with the city manager to discuss this issue as well as others. I was told the state audited these numbers so I could contact them. So I wrote to the attorney general’s office asking for verification. The response was that the state has a hands-off policy on enterprise contracts and I need to work with the city and their auditors to get this info. I also asked if the state reviews spending from urban renewal programs. Again, the response was the state keeps hands off these and problems are a local issue.
I conclude city leadership has little or no problem spending money from urban renewal funds as long as they say it meets the general criteria that was established in the founding legislation. Similar to calling a horse a pig and if called a pig by the city that is what it is.
Let me be clear, it appears that the city is not breaking any laws or requirements of the mentioned programs, but in my mind they are pushing the pencil on these to the maximum without concern, compassion or consideration of their constituents.