As speaking in public is not something I do comfortably, it was my intention to follow up with a letter after the Nov. 3 public hearing on the water and sewer rate increase. I decided to wait until after the regular council meeting on Nov. 7 to prepare the letter.
As I suspected, the mayor, the city administrator and two of the council members did not even consider the idea of cutting costs elsewhere in their budgets to alleviate the need for such a dramatic increase as that proposed.
I suggested cuts in other areas based on some of the spending and the salaries of city employees. Someone attending the Nov. 3 hearing had acquired a list of the salaries of the city employees. The administrator, economic development director, clerk, and public works director receive salaries significantly greater than the median income of a two-person household in Cassville. I suggest that in a time of infrastructure crisis, that the position of economic development director be eliminated and the salaries of the other three be rolled back to somewhere around $40,000 rather than the $58,795.00, $48,270.00 and $47,500.00 respectively, which they currently draw. That would give the city $82,045.00 per year to put toward the water and sewer system.
Because most of us haven't been paying attention, we don't even know how the city spends money. I have noted a few items that I would consider to be luxuries in light of an infrastructure crisis. Some are small, but as we know, even small items add up over time.
* New City logo: $3,500.
* Remodeling in council chambers: $7,000.
* City share of DREAM: $14,000.
* New website: several thousand, but I couldn't find the exact amount.
Two of the councilmen, Hill and Heinz, voted "no" on the proposal. They both seemed to believe that the city could accomplish the basics of acquiring the necessary funds by choosing the lower rate increase and implementing it over a period of time. If this lower rate increase were combined with salary elimination and reductions, the residents of Cassville would not be so seriously and immediately impacted.
Please note that none of the people drawing these salaries live within the city limits and will not be impacted by the rate increases.
The mayor, city administrator, and two councilmen were not inclined to compromise. Like many politicians, the mayor condescendingly stated that the residents simply cannot understand this complicated issue.
My initial thought after this council meeting was the idea of a recall election. However, after looking at the statues, I don't see that as a viable option. So, I strongly suggest that every resident of the city register to vote, attend as many council meetings as possible and continue to put pressure on the people whose salaries we pay.
The next best thing to a recall election may be to be sure we have viable candidates in place for the next election. We can't elect the same people and expect different results. If you know someone willing to run for office, get the name out there. We obviously need a change.