Saturday, August 23, 2008

BS on our Ballooning Budget

Fayetteville's sales tax collection for June was $1,397,419.08, an 8.3% increase from last year. It serves as a clear reminder that the City Council did the right thing last year in defeating Mayor Dan Coody's plan to raise property taxes to cover his $2.3 million budget deficit. It is ironic that the three Aldermen (Adella Gray, Brenda Thiel, and Robert Rhoads) who voted for Coody's tax increase last year are the same three who voted against requiring Coody to submit a balanced budget this year.

Raising taxes and increasing spending is a familiar plan from Dan Coody. In 2005, Coody was facing a $2.2 million budget deficit, and he pushed through a 2-mill property tax increase. Then the City Council discovered that he and his staff had submitted bogus numbers, and they cut the property tax back to 1.3 mills. Coody still presented another deficit budget of $663, 768, even after the 1.3 mill property tax increase.

Then there was the sales tax bonded debt that we had to pass to cover the $63 million cost over run on the sewer plant debacle. Prudent management might have prevented that from ever happening or being caught earlier, but Mayor Coody says he is a "big picture vision" man who doesn't want to be bothered with
the "mundane, time-consuming, nuts-and-bolts stuff ."

Such a history of financial irresponsibility is what makes it insulting when The Coody says, "We're going to continue to be conservative in our spending and budgeting," when asked about the continued increase in sales tax revenues . An unsuspecting reporter for
The Morning News said Coody's remarks reflected "his stay-the-course caution." Uh huh. Coody's course has consistently been to raise taxes, increase spending, and submit deficit budgets that endanger the city's financial reserves.

Since Coody took office in 2001, he has tripled the size of the city's total annual expenses from $35.8 million to a whopping $126.8 million. It would have been even higher this year if the City Council had not rejected Coody's proposed tax increase and worked so diligently to rein in spending. They had to do it alone, too, while Dan Coody and his wife were off on another foreign junket.

"One thing taxpayers deserve is budget conservatively and spend wisely," Coody once said. Despite his considerable skills in other areas and his winning personality that charms the media, it is too bad that he has failed us in that important regard and has demonstrated that he is unable to do either.

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