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Regarding the last editorial and news story with respect to The Dalles owning the highest water and sewer rates in a Hermiston 'similar city' study. What's worse, the poor explanation from our City management is more troubling. In fact, those 'higher-than-others' numbers are part of the combined source of dissatisfaction expressed by many concerned citizens recently. Does the City of The Dalles actually steward our monies appropriately and efficiently? This subject is circling many coffee shop discussions, casual conversations and letters to the editor with frequency. It is a question that suggests City management may not possess the reputation for the proper stewarding of its monetary responsibilities. To some, budget growth is far more likely to occur in our current City leadership than any reflection of good budget trimming practices or strong fiscal habits. Our City has a history littered with reflections of expensive monetary project developments, where money is 'freely' issued, casually returned and rates increased to cover the rising cost of those project expansions. What's worse, justification has become one-sided. This has become our City of The Dalles monetary habits. It has become one of the black eyes of our current City management. The appetite for spending has proven higher in the City's fort than likely any other agency in our region. With time, this bad habit glows brighter. It has grown to show up in multiple departments and within multiple projects. Pick a project and follow the money trail. Start with urban renewal. The search will not be hard to find high dollar errors and irregular patterns of money mismanagement. Try the road and water departments. Hermiston easily found one in that area. Try looking into any economic development areas. This is where monies begin to float like a shell game...overlapping project funding with grants, reserves and creativity. Accountants do not appreciate creativity with funding; especially public monies. The spending habits of our City are increasing. Maybe it is time to start an audit, department by department. Examine what is really occurring and re-align desires with reality. An audit sooner or later reveals stuff we may not be fond to possess. Other unwanted stuff will also begin to unravel. What we will discover, however, is the truth about monetary stewardship. We need to see if we are working on producing an A+ or a D minus. We need to know for sure what we have going on with our money. There is enough legitimate unfriendly evidence and concern to warrant a look. These leaders are our employees. We are not their subordinates. They tend to use our checkbooks with a 'follow us' mentality and a free will set of agendas. We have a responsibility to question their spending habits. They work for us. It might be time to make sure they are using our checkbooks properly when they open it up. Is it time to call for an audit?
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