Sunday, January 29, 2006
Clear the Agenda
This budget season, council showed their hand. They believe they have no responsibility. They think their only job is to install the administration’s agenda. Council wants to sit back and blame the administration when things go bad, and join in and celebrate when things go well. This is unacceptable to us taxpayers. Council does have responsibility for the outcome; good or bad.
This year, council must identify those responsibilities, and assure the public that they will carry them out; starting with the budget. It was sad to see the administration again backing Council against a wall by not putting forth the necessary information early enough. That would have allowed Council to review and comment on the budget, and send it back to the administration for repair. The need for several months to provide for the negotiation of a real and acceptable budget is obvious. This delay tactic has been used for several years predating even the Mitman Administration, and each year Council says, “We are not going to let this happen”, and every year it happens again. The formulation of the budget must start now.
The rules must be followed by everyone. Council must set an example by being sure they are operating under the rules and laws of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. They have to make sure that the administration also operates under the rules and enforces the law in a fair and equal manner. To do this each and every member has to be knowledgeable on the rules, not dependant on the solicitor and the administration to feed them the rules. This practice allows for dubious manipulation.
In this budget review one thing was apparent, revenues were not being collected. In order to complete the necessary tasks we must have all of our revenues. So Council must keep a very close eye on this process. They cannot wait until October to realize again that we are behind on collection. Council needs to demand that the administration and the Treasurer give them a monthly report on revenue collection at a City Council meeting. It has to be put in the open, for it to be a priority. I think it is only fair to the taxpayers who pay regularly and in a timely manner to know the status of the delinquencies.
Then Council must hold the Mayor’s feet to the fire. Have him prepare, with the input of Council, a list of goals with a time line to be met in 2006, and present it to the public in a State of the City address. This will give a measure of progress that can be shared with the public. This will allow everyone-- the Administration, Council, and the public to focus and assist in meeting those goals. The agenda will be clear. If the administration starts to lose focus it can be reminded of the agenda.
It seems like we’ve been flying blind for the past two years. It’s time we opened our eyes, cleaned our windows, and cleared the air. The status quo is out of fashion. Know that, when you offer the same old excuse next time, you may just be resigning from office. We are watching, and EVERYTHING is on the record.