Friday, February 12, 2010

Council Critics, Budget Hawks And Accordian Players Need Not Apply

The SN-L is running a story this morning reporting the Springfield public involvement committee wants more diversity on tax panel.

Concerned by the lack of diversity in the current crop of applicants, a City Council committee has offered another chance to residents interested in serving on the new Tax Oversight Panel.

Scratch "offered." Councilmember Cindy Rushefsky bluntly described an extension through March 1 as a plea to local residents.

"We are interested, please apply," she said. "This is a broad-based citizens group ... you don't have to have any particular expertise."

Rushefsky and fellow Public Involvement Committee members Scott Bailes and Jerry Compton said they were worried by the narrow range of applicants for the nine-member panel, which was created to provide oversight of the 3/4-cent pension sales tax passed in November.

By the end of the two-week application window Tuesday, the city had received 18 applications.

One issue, Rushefsky said: "A disproportionate number of the applicants are of a particular political persuasion."

A News-Leader review of the applications indicated about a third of the applicants are regular council critics and budget hawks, or others who listed those people as references.

"Loading up the group with people of a single point of view isn't helpful," Rushefsky said. "If it doesn't reflect the community as a whole, it kind of defeats the purpose."

Compton said he was more concerned that only one of the applicants was a woman.

"It is a little concerning to me that 50 percent of our population won't be represented," said Rushefsky, who served as acting chair of the committee in Councilman Nick Ibarra's absence.

Compton stressed that his worry was not over the quality of applicants, but simply the range of experience and perspective.

"I think it's important to stress that we appreciate these people that have applied ... and we're still looking at them," Compton said. "(But) it needs to be a diverse group ..."

Bailes said he worried about delaying creation of the panel, which is slated to review a recent suggestion that the city use part of a recent telecom settlement to help pay for an employee-funded benefit enhancement that is part of the overall pension debt.

By extending the application window, "we might not get more" applicants, Bailes said, before voting with Compton and Rushefsky in favor of the extension. "At least we'll give our citizens a chance to expand the pool."
The third largest city in Missouri is governed by volunteers.

Applications for this oversight panel are available here. Budget hawks, council critics, members of a particular political persuasion and accordian players need not apply.


dirtsister said...

that accordion picture is gold

Anonymous said...

Whoa, there. Stephens plays the accordian!