Ordinance Enforcement & Sanitation Losses
Well, well...looks like we have finally acquired a Code Enforcement Officer, Pam Badger of the New Albany Police Department. However, as I understand it, she is not a sworn officer. She is the officer behind the wheel of the car that follows the street sweeper around town. Gee, wonder where they got that idea?
This action has been proposed here many times as an interim measure, until a full time enforcement officer could be appointed. Since we already had an officer driving the streets at 5 mph, why couldn't that officer enforce blatant code violations as well until a code enforcement person was hired? Apparently, this option has become the final appointment.
As much as I am delighted to have a person to turn to for code enforcement in our distressed neighborhoods, I am somewhat suspicious of the route taken for the final appointment of the full term officer. That responsibility was supposed to fall to the City Council for final approval.
The process that was written into the record, and signed by the Mayor, for approval and assignment of a person to fill this position, was that the Board of Works would make a recommendation, and the City Council would make final approval, then the Mayor would sign off on it.
This process was circumvented by allowing Chief Harl to make the appointment directly.
It appears that, once again, the Mayor is changing the rules as he goes along, more or less letting the council know that their authority and duties are only utilized at his discretion.
Well, the City Council is the body that is supposed to provide the checks and balances that protect the public from autonomous power. In other words, a govenrment of one.
Perhaps if Mayor Garner would govern a little more democratically, he might just get a little more cooperation from the Council, and it wouldn't take so long to get something like a code enforcement officer in position without all the political power struggles stalling it.
Instead, Garner wants to dictate the governmental decisions that need to be made for New Albany. There are no discussions, no compromises, no mutual decisions when it comes to deciding what is best for the city.
Since the Council didn't approve Messer, as recommended by Garner, he gave the decision over to the Police Chief, disregarding the approved protocol.
Like the Mayor's autonomous decision to yank the Sanitation department and privatize it. Nothing was discussed prior to his decision, and there were no meetings between the Mayor and the Council to take a hard look at the numbers. It was simply announced.
Perhaps because if one looks at the numbers, it becomes clear that something is not quite right.
After the 1998 sanitation fund coming in at $26K+ in the black, the 1999 fund came in at almost $200K in the red. In 2000, the fund reflected a $300K deficit, and by 2002 it was $428K in the red. The deficit doubled in 2003, coming in at -$892K, and by 2004 it was -$929K.
Probing further into what may have created such substantial losses, we have to consider that sanitation fees were handed over to Indiana American Water Corp. just as the sewer fees were.
I discovered that when a sewage bill was forgiven, as were many, the sanitation portion of the bill was never addressed, or collected. Furthermore, since 2002 as dilenquent bills were collected for sewage and/or water, none of the money recovered was distributed to the sanitation department. This could very well account for a part of the depth of the sanitation deficit.
Privatization should not be considered until the books and accounting records are reviewed and the losses accounted for. To date, the State says it is impossible to audit the sanitation and sewer funds because the books are impossible to deconstruct.
I hate to keep harping on the sanitation department, but it just seems so unfair to delete a city service when it is not known why or how the department deficit happened.
The sewage fund was used too often as a stop-gap measure, and now we are in the position of having to get our ducks in order due to scrutiny from the EPA.
Look folks, all I'm saying is, if it doesn't make sense, it's probably not true. I think we truly deserve an official and full audit to explain how we got where we are before any changes are undertaken.
As for the Ordinance Enforcement Officer, I am very glad to have someone in place. and I hope the process of complaints and enforcement are established quickly, and that we will start seeing a difference in the city soon. Even though I don't agree with the way Garner did it.
We have waited way too long.
So, welcome Pam Badger, I hope you have your running shoes on! You're going to be very busy! As for James Garner, shame on you again, for flying in the face of procedure and behaving like a spoiled child who has to get his way. Your track record of appointments and decisions speaks for itself. It does not speak well of your abilities, and it has cost you any credibility.