Waiting Years To Get It Done… Or is it?

Six years ago or so when I first heard that some department heads getting to take city cars home I was shocked. My exact words to a former employee  “are you kidding me you mean to tell me the taxpayers pay for this?” I went on to say, “why are you getting cars to take home at night?” This person went on to tell me that they are not supposed to use the car for personal use, but if they do they have to claim the mileage. Okay and who monitors that? NO ONE each person just has to report it. Well does everyone report it? The answer to that question was some more than others. I asked many questions during that discussion I remember walking away from that exchange very unhappy, but not knowing what if anything I could do about it. That was over six (6) years ago.

Fast forward to now and the council has passed a resolution to park the cars after working hours. There are several things that I noticed during the study session of the cars. One for the first time this city has an assistant who does not own their own car. There is no law that say’s that they must have a car that’s fine, but when councilwoman Badalow demanded an answer from the assistant to how many personal miles she averages during a week on the city car? She could not answer she could not say, does not know back and forth it went and she would not answer. Councilwoman Badalow had got the information and she said that from August of 2010 to March of 2011 she put down that she only used 15 personal miles. A seven month span of time and she only used the car for 15 personal miles. Remember they fill out their own miles it is left up to each person to do this with honesty after all we are dealing with honest professional people here right?

There was one department head that said their car is paid for by federal grant money, but did not bring one piece of paper showing any reimbursement for a car on a monthly basis from that grant. The city is allowed 20% of the grant to go to administering that grant. A car being paid for from grant money and  used for city business would be a violation of that grant. This department head goes on to say that they go to many events at night (they pay for those tickets $50-100 each ticket) if you are using a city car to go to an event that has nothing to do with the grant and administering it that is a violation. The former head of that department never said anything to the council about that car being paid for from “grant money” before this.  I would say that is not something you want to keep saying I think the city would be better served not to run around on the record saying these thing and putting our grant money in jeopardy.

One more thing I would like to point out, every time I hear “this is paid for from a grant or that is paid for from a grant and it is not coming from city money.” Everyone makes you feel as if this is some how some anonymous donor dropping millions at our city door step.. People this is still taxpayer money only on a federal level same for city money. The “city money” is taxpayer money all of it is coming from taxpayers.

Now there is a new rule passed by the council only re-enforcing what the charter say’s how many are going to abide by that rule? At least a couple have decided not to park the city car. That is shameful and a violation of the charter and resolution passed by City Council. So what happens to those that decide to thumb their noses at the Council, taxpayers, and the Charter? Mr. Mayor when you sat on that council when you chaired that council you would have never ever allowed any other administration to violate the charter and break the rules the way you have. What has happened to you? I do not re-call any former Mayor ever doing things like this to the council or the taxpayers. I do not recall any Mayor showing such out right contempt for a Council.

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5 thoughts on “Waiting Years To Get It Done… Or is it?”

  1. Marge

    I understand there is a line item I did write that what I am saying is there is no break down of how much of that is spent on maintenance of the cars in that department how is anyone able to understand if this is cost effective or not? Same goes for computer is fixing the equipment over and over again better than replacing it. Does anyone know how much is spent over a year on the cars for repair, oil change, tire rotation and so on?

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  2. Unless I am wrong there is a line in almost every department’s budget called Maint. & Repair Equip. This includes cars. They are considered equipment IT has its own budget. Page 34 of the budget.

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  3. Transparency…ahhhh, my favorite word….has such a nice ring to it, don’t you think? Huh? Did I hear you say that our Mayor doesn’t like that word? Hmm. I suspected so…

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  4. Financial reports are given through out the year from my understanding these are done during study sessions. If you look at the budget that is on the city web site you can see under revenues that the millage was going to see an increase. Do they print a separate sheet of paper that says this will be increased do they put that out there for the public to understand just what implication that has no. They have budget meetings that are public and they do post notice for these meetings not sure where they are posted because I have never seen a posted budget meeting date and time. I find out from council members. One thing missing from the budget is car repairs one department head was talking about getting old cars from the police dept. They are working, but very old and soon they start needing repairs those repairs come from his department budget it is that way for every department. Yet you will not find one line in the budget for car repairs, car maintenance, nothing when it comes to the cars. We have no way of knowing how much the city is spending on maintaining these cars why is that not a line item in every department that has a vehicle? That department is spending a lot of his operating budget on old cars given to him by the police department. There is no way to keep track of this no way to find out if the city is even saving money doing it this way.

    There is no line item in the budget for IT nothing about computer repair, maintenance, equipment replacement. You will see in every department repair and maintenance of equipment is this including car, computers, phones and so on? I think the budget is very unclear there should be total transparency how much is spent on maintaining old out dated equipment instead of replacing worn out computers, printers, and phones?

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  5. I suspect the city has improperly given tax forms for years. Going to and from work is personal use of these cars. She could not possibly had only 15 miles of personal use unless she lives next door to city hall..Which makes me wonder how good the audit done by Plante and Moran is. The IRS is very clear on personal use of autos. No one can claim mileage to and from work. Whoever is in charge of the federal tax filing for the city obviously does not know or comply with the law.

    On another subject the city charter unless it has been changed some place I cannot find is very clear on how the buget is to be presented. Which is very different from what is being done now.
    The charter says the budget must included all pertinent information that makes up the budget. It is to included the current years budget with a projection to year end. It also states financial reports on the budget are to be given throughout the year. Another words the budget should have informed the public of all the milage increases ( pertinent information) . The budget should have included how the 2011 was projected to end.

    Public comments on the budget are called for before the budget is actually completed. The public is offered the first cut or rough draft. How can a public comment on a budget that is not complete,has no pertinent information to allow anyone to make a rational decision. Had I known about all the increased milage I would have made a comment or two. The way the charter requires the budget to be presented is pretty much industry standards. I would like to see the charter followed for all future budgets. The council should demand the charter be followed.

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