Monday, February 02, 2009

Springfield Pension Tax: Bloggers Weigh In

First is Jason Wert of LifeofJason weighs in on the issue.

While I am 110% behind police and fire when it comes to them being given what they were promised I really didn’t want to support the tax increase this Tuesday.

However, the critics of the city haven’t given us a valid reason not to vote yes. The city’s given us a concrete plan to fix the problem. All the critics have done is criticize those trying to find a solution without offering a constructive plan to solve the issue.

And this commentator on the SN-L, MarkofGrace, has this to say:
In addition to these three strategies, preserving & enhancing the quality of life for Springfield citizens is also important. Many things make up "quality of life", including clean environment, pleasant neighborhoods, diverse housing and job opportunities, & recreational and cultural opportunities. Where possible, the capital improvement projects which are preferred are those which have a long useful life, benefit the City as a whole, benefit the City's low & moderate income citizens & either protect or have no adverse impact on the environment.

Street Improvements $ 70,948,000 / Sidewalks and Overpasses $ 963,500 /Storm Sewers $ 19,621,000

Park Improvements: $ 84,349,611 /New Parks: $ 1,125,000 /Airport $ 52,243,671
Special Facilities: $100,070,000: Baseball Stadium - JVPCenter City Parking Multi-Purpose Arena – JVP Partnership Industrial Center Development Partnership Industrial Center West Development Railroad Relocation and Grade Separation Study Salt Storage Facility Surface Parking Facilities JVP Municipal Buildings and Grounds $ 34,573,500 Art Museum Addition - Southwest Wing/HVAC Updates Community Tree and Landscaping Improvements Creamery Building Renovation Government Plaza Municipal Parking / Landscape Improvements Phase One Municipal Facilities Improvements Police Headquarters Expansion and Remodeling - Phase I Property Acquisition to Implement Vision 20/20 Recommendations Public Works Operations Center Improvements-Phase I, II, and III Public Works Operations Complex - Expansion Area Acquisition Police/Fire Training Facility - Phase I

All of which have & continue to be considered quality of life priorities by City Council as opposed to basic core service of safety & protection of citizens by maintaining the police & fire department at financially sound levels.
Before passing a new tax some existing sales tax need repealed !

Even Ralph Manley spoke the issue over a year ago. Remember the budget crisis? From LifeofJason City Council Meeting, January 19, 2008: 8:49pm…
Council Bill 2008-017. A resolution adopting the Capital Improvements Program for 2008 through 2013.

CIP program strategies are to protect life, health and public safety, improve existing infrastructure and develop new infrastructure.

21 projects completed in 2007 for just over $48,300,000. The plan for 2008-2013 will be on the P&Z website shortly.

218 projects in 2008-2013 will total over $575,000,000 and will come from various taxes and fees.

There was discussions on new projects like College Station, Crime Lab, Art Museum, park developments and more. (I’ll link the P&Z report when I can get the info so you can review it.)

The Mayor talked about talked about how you need to manage and take care of what you have before you start new buildings and new development.

He also talked about how some funds are restricted in purpose like sewer bills revenue cannot be used to build sidewalks.

Councilman Wylie said that the Mayor painted a picture of what’s happening very accurately and this document shows the nuts and bolts of what’s happening within the city. He said that any member of the public can suggest items to be included on this list.

Councilman Chiles commended the report as being through and very well written.

Councilman Chiles how this document could shift should energy rates adjust that require people to use more public transportation. The answer was that the document can be amended when something comes down the line that requires action.

Councilman Burlison said he was impressed with the work that went into the document but he’s going to be the party pooper. He said some of the priorities in this document that a city under the current constraints would find as luxuries.

Councilman Collette said that it would be helpful for Council if Councilman Burlison provided a list of what he seem is luxuries. The Mayor said if Councilman Burlison wanted to make suggestions they would be happy to table it for two weeks. Councilman Burlison said that would be great but that he’s one Councilman out of nine and doesn’t want to impose.

Councilman Manley said that the people in these departments are experts in their fields and that the Council needs to rely on these people. He said that they’ve had this to review for a week or so and that it’s ready to pass because the experts said it’s important. He said he wants to vote on it tonight and passing this tonight. He said that this is what the people want and that it should be passed. The Mayor agreed with Councilman Manley but that he doesn’t want anyone to feel they aren’t serious about the concerns that someone would raise. He doesn’t mind giving two weeks to Councilman Burlison to raise the issues.

The issue was tabled for two weeks on a voice vote with Councilman Manley voting nay.

Jackehammer (We've Got To Save Springfield) offers her perspective on the ballot issue:
It is very tempting, indeed, to vote no for the sales tax and try to force the City to cut out their ongoing redevelopment plans and change their introverted, "I-want, vision-20/20" from looking in a continued, ill-conceived direction...(but) For now, I believe it is in the best interest of our City to support the sales tax and then, do everything we can to keep ourselves educated and involved in the future actions of our representative Council.

The SN-L weighed in and, judging by Jason's post, it must have been a helluva discussion. The SN-L Editorial, No: Too Much, Too Soon, Too Risky is pretty right on target. Some money quotes:
- The city administration has not fully explained why it chose to dismiss other possible options for stabilizing the fund, including the process of requesting Pension Obligation Bonds. St. Louis recently used a combination of the bonds and a sales tax to address the same kind of pension problem.

- We're not convinced the city has looked hard enough at areas in its regular operations to cut.

The city must do a long-overdue audit of jobs and personnel to see if every job at the city is essential.

Make those personnel cuts. Sell unused city assets. Put settlements from lawsuits involving the telecommunications providers into the pension fund, as soon as possible.

The City Manager writes that a year ago the SN-L said a tax was the only way to fix the pension fund. To quote Burris, 'In the Feb. 21, 2008, editorial, "Tax hike needed to fix pensions," the News-Leader included statements such as: "The only realistic way out of the city's pension mess is a tax increase" and "We suggested long ago that a tax increase would be necessary to buttress the city's lagging pension."'

The problem is that the economic status of this country has changed dramatically since February 21, 2008. Frequent riders will remember that people lost their life savings, lost their jobs, lost their life insurance, heck, even my pension is at risk. Things are a lot different now than they were a year ago, Ralph Manley's opinion notwithstanding. (Councilman Manley said that the people in these departments are experts in their fields and that the Council needs to rely on these people. He said that they’ve had this to review for a week or so and that it’s ready to pass because the experts said it’s important. He said he wants to vote on it tonight and passing this tonight. He said that this is what the people want and that it should be passed. The Mayor agreed with Councilman Manley...)

Aieressera, oi' ne', me ne sagliette,tu saie addo'?
Addo' 'stu core 'ngrato cchiu' dispietto farme nun po'!
Addo' lo fuoco coce, ma si fuie te lassa sta!
E nun te corre appriesso, nun te struie, 'ncielo a guarda'!...
Jammo 'ncoppa, jammo ja', funiculi', funicula'

Ne'... jammo da la terra a la montagna! no passo nc'e'!
Se vede Francia, Proceta e la Spagna...Io veco a tte!
Tirato co la fune, ditto 'nfatto,'ncielo se va..
Se va comm' 'a lu viento a l'intrasatto, gue', saglie sa'!
Jammo 'ncoppa, jammo ja',funiculi', funicula'!

Se n' 'e' sagliuta, oi' ne', se n' 'e' sagliuta la capa giĆ !
E' gghiuta, po' e' turnata, po' e' venuta...sta sempe cca'!
La capa vota, vota, attuorno, attuorno,attuorno a tte!
Sto core canta sempe u taluorno Sposammo, oi' ne'!
Jammo 'ncoppa, jammo ja',funiculi', funicula'!
And that, constant readers, is how I plan to vote.

1 comment:

d5thouta5 said... appears as if the individuals selected to represent your community have no idea what it is that your community wants. The comments from your city representatives, with the exception of one, echo the standard party line of those representing select special interest. I am still confused, after following your account of your city's current financial state for the past year, as to how your city representatives can continue to push for the developement of non-essential projects. Redeveloping the Heers building, for the fifteenth time is much more important than continuing the financial support of the police and fire departments of your community. (Everyone can see that. Even from a thousand miles away.) As for the continuation of the voting, sounds like only one of your representatives has the integrity to stand up for what he thinks is the right.
Good Luck and for goodness sake encourage your riders to get involved on a personal level.