Speak Out Loud NA

Monday, November 07, 2005

IT'S JUST NOT FAIR....

After watching the predictable outcome of last Friday’s Special meeting, and coming away with the sickening feeling that fairness in this town simply doesn’t matter, I began to contemplate what else will transpire during this reign of ineptness and greed. There was plenty of time to do this the right way. They simply chose not to.
The plan for a new Stormwater “user fee” has escalated into an $800,000 monster that is being assessed unfairly by tacking the fee onto the Indiana-American Water Co. (IAW) bills instead of placing the fee equitably on property taxes.
By billing through the water company, one thing we are assured of is that owners of empty lots will not be contributing, nor will any properties that are vacant and not receiving water service. Thus, this fee is being assessed in an unfair manner.
Why, you might ask, would such a method be approved if it is not fair nor equitable? Well, mostly because the sewer fund has been so misused and mismanaged, that they now need a large influx of money A.S.A.P., and thus, cannot wait for the fees to be drawn from the tax rolls.
To add insult to injury (yes, some pay while others don’t is financial injury), much debate was given during the meeting to lowering the 12 month residential INTERIM fee by a measly $1, which will result in a net savings of a whole $12 per water billed customer. This issue was given much more attention than it merited, as the INTERIM FEE is not the real issue. Any false sense that this $1 makes this ridiculous fee more friendly to the “little people”, as mentioned by one Council member, is an insult. They should have debated how many salaries this fee will pay.
The real issue is: How much is the PERMANENT stormwater “user fee” going to be, and why is it not being assessed fairly to every property holder?
Unless they can show me that some properties don’t get rained on during a storm while others do, I will continue to insist that this is an unfair, and inequitably applied fee. Every Council member who voted to allow this should be ashamed.
Still, in order for the City to compensate for this lost $1, the fee for commercial entities, such as Wal-Mart, Krogers, and every other business, was raised by a whopping $3, resulting in an $18 INTERIM stormwater fee.
This is neither fair nor equitable either, as every business, whether it be 1,000 square footage like a bakery or a hair salon, will be paying the same amount as a business of 100,000 square foot like the “Big Box” stores I’ve mentioned. The Home Depot will be paying the same fee as Ace Hardware. Does that seem fair?
Furthermore, the projected after-interim fee for commercial stores is $30, which is more than a 70% increase. No Council member managed to utter the projected after-interim fee for the chosen residential properties, but if the commercial increase is any indication, then we are in for another big hit.
Anyone who can truly look at this last-minute money grab as anything close to fair, and right, for the residents and small businesses of New Albany is just plain wrong. This is another Garner screw-up that we will be paying for out of our pockets because this administration did not do their job properly.
This fee could have been applied equitably among all residents by adding it to the property taxes, and fairly among commercial entities by basing it on square footage. However, they said there was no time to wait for the tax monies to come in, and no other way to comply with the Federal mandates in time unless it was done this way, even though they have known for years that this was coming. More proof of ineptness.
So, who didn’t do their job? Who are we supposed to blame for not staying on top of this? Why did they assemble a public committee to study the issue and make recommendations if all their work was simply going to be tossed aside as a useless formality? The Committee had a plan, the costs were only $200K by May of 2006, and it required no fees on residentials. But, that didn't satisfy the Administration.
Why didn’t the City work with the County, which has to follow the same mandates, to come up with a system for meeting the mandates requirements without strapping it on the backs of the residents and small business owners? It's because this is about more than meeting EPA Federal mandates. Much more.
My home is about 1200 square foot and sits on a 50-foot lot. Why am I paying the same as the guy down the street in a 4,000 square foot home on a double lot with a large driveway? How can they expect to get away with something so blatantly inequitable? Because they have been getting away with it, for decades. No more.
CM Schmidt's inquiry of using money available from $2.2 million in TIF funds was promtly thwarted by announcing in the paper, just days before the special meeting, that bids for a (surprise!) $2.2 million project (unknown at the time) would be accepted by the City's Redevelopment Commission, which is the authority of TIF spending. Director John Rosenbarger was asked at the meeting if TIF dollars could indeed be used for any portion of the stormwater mandate. He answered that TIF money, Tax Incremental Financing, is dedicated to funding improvements for those specifically designated areas of economic development, and this money is only available for "projects", not for administrative costs. Furthermore, any projects must, at the least, be related to serving the TIF district.
The County has managed to put a system in place for this stormwater mandate that will not add any extra burden to the residents. They are using EDIT funds and fees from private developers to cover the costs associated with the program.
How are they doing that you ask?
Well, they aren’t asking for an extra $200,000 to set up an entirely new “department” to handle the stormwater projects. They placed the program under the County’s Planning Commission. We could have done the same here, or put it under the sewer department, but due to mis-management and mis-appropriation of funds, we, the taxpayers, are having to bail out the sewer department by supplying money for the salaries of several employees who have been wrongly getting paid out of the sewer funds. Those salaries MUST NOT continue coming out of the Sewer funds.
Also, since we have obligated available EDIT funds to build a $17 million swimming pool, we have to cough up enough money to do any actual “projects” that may be necessary to control the quality of stormwater runoff.
The EPA still hasn’t notified the City as to the question of adding additional hookups to the sewage system, and we know that any measurable amount of rain causes huge overflows of the system, but our illustrious Mayor has deemed it more economically advantageous to have a swimming pool, than it is to have functioning sewers and the capability of handling stormwater, as a major selling point for economic development. Ahhhhh, you can smell it already, can't you?
All in all folks, we just got screwed again. Don’t look away… there’s more to come.
Those TIF funds I spoke of earlier, they are suddenly available for "other" uses. I have discovered our Mayor is going to request a $700,000 "loan" from the TIF funds to cover a cash shortfall in the General fund for the remainder of the year!!!
In my book, $700K is awfully close to the $800K the Mayor and his cronies said is needed for this stormwater runoff management project. If we had used the TIF dollars, there wouldn't be anything to "borrow" from, and he plans to pay it back with.... you guessed it! PROPERTY TAX REVENUE!
Is all this bumbling around beginning to gel together in your minds? It should be getting pretty obvious what is happening in our City.
Now, for the final curtain... next year's budget calls for all of them getting salary increases. Isn't this a wonderful time we live in?


*THE CONTENTS OF THIS BLOG ARE COPYRIGHT MATERIALS AND MAY NOT BE REPRODUCED IN ANY OTHER MANNER WITHOUT THE ADMINISTRATORS EXPRESSLY WRITTEN CONSENT*

56 Comments:

  • Laura,

    I sat in the meeting and heard Rosenbarger say that the TIF funds could not be used for anything but the development projects in their own district.

    How can they "borrow" $700,000 from this fund?

    The TIF funds should be for improving the sewer system. If our streets collapse no one will be able to drive to the "Y".

    We need to speak out and demand an accounting for all of this mismangement. I get so tired of hearing "We can't" for suggestions that may benefit the taxpayer. Some people are lining their pockets with our hard earned tax dollars! We must stop this BS NOW!

    Just my opinion.

    By Blogger shirley baird, at 7:27 AM, November 07, 2005  

  • You've got 2 more years of this, I fear.

    You need to start looking for an honest candidate to run against James in the next election. He won't be hard to beat, that's for sure.

    I'm glad I live in the county.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 9:06 AM, November 07, 2005  

  • Anonymous,

    And believe me us Democrats have and we are currently looking at other honest alternatives. If anyone knows anything about being a true Powerful Democrats in this town. It's all about Democrats show up at all functions for appearance only. And what isn't being discuss openly is the real issues being work on in the background is what is worrying many democrats including Mayor Garner.
    anonymous,
    Ask any real democrat what's really going on right now. And they will laugh and say exactly what was written here....

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 9:52 AM, November 07, 2005  

  • BTW---- RECENT AUDIT SHOWS THAT THE SANITATION DEPT HAS ONLY LOST ABOUT $135,000.00 THROUGH SEPT OF THIS YEAR. (figures out this week). A small increase and some cost saving features could save the dept. Sewer board is going to circle the wagons--especially council members
    kochert and seabrook, who btw will not be attending tonights meeting--if I were him I wouldn't either.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 10:21 AM, November 07, 2005  

  • I hear a lot of talk on here about how an audit needs to be done. I agree. Obviously, if there are those among you who are so adament that there is something going on that is wrong, there could be some merit to that and it should indeed come to the the light.

    Has anyone made that move? Has anyone contacted an independant company to do that? What are you being told?

    I have asked this question before and have not gotten a direct answer, instead I only hear; They are changing the number, it keeps getting blocked, they are being mean to us.

    These are unacceptable excuses and responses. If you are convinced that there is shady dealings and people are stealing money from the city, then there should be nothing standing in your way of getting these answers.

    It sucks, and is hard work, and you will definatly make some new enemies along the way but at least you will have some hard facts, which will strengthen your credibility.

    Also, how long will the interm fee last, what will the new price be?

    As far as you having to pay the same amount as a building that is larger then you, what about smaller homes then yours? Should they pay a lower price then yours?

    Thanks for taking my post seriously and helping to answer these questions.

    By Blogger ceece, at 10:39 AM, November 07, 2005  

  • Anon 9:52

    You are so right, being another one of the Democrats you mentioned I also see the deal making in private.

    I, as you, am also worried.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 12:02 PM, November 07, 2005  

  • Tax Increment Funds---- TIF

    Somewhere in another comment, it was
    stated that the City had already borrowed $2,000,000 from the TIF Funds.

    It is now being said that the City wants to borrow an additional $750,000. to bail out their budget.
    This is to be repaid by Dec 31, 2005.

    Simple math:
    $2,000,000 + 750,000 = $2,750,000.

    Is that why they refused to allow the use of TIF money to fund the Stormwater Program. John Rosenbarger said you can't use it,
    but, if each TIF put up $50,000 to cover the Stormwater in that TIF area, then, why not use TIF Funds?

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 12:38 PM, November 07, 2005  

  • *THE CONTENTS OF THIS BLOG ARE COPYRIGHT MATERIALS AND MAY NOT BE REPRODUCED IN ANY OTHER MANNER WITHOUT THE ADMINISTRATORS EXPRESSLY WRITTEN CONSENT*

    Nice try, but no dice.

    You shouldn't rely on the Legal, Bagel and Cream Cheese firm for your advice. All she can do is copy passages from the Internet without proper attribution.

    By Anonymous Herbert Sreicher, at 1:14 PM, November 07, 2005  

  • herbert,

    Welcome back baylor progressives.
    Glad you stopped by. But go back to the other blogs.

    We got real issues to deal with. Like sewers, sanitation, mismanagement, and getting an audit on our property tax dollars. TIF money and General fund and etc..

    Were dealing with the real issues!

    By Anonymous GARY WEBB, at 1:41 PM, November 07, 2005  

  • hmm still no answers...

    By Blogger ceece, at 2:36 PM, November 07, 2005  

  • www.copyright.gov

    By Blogger East Ender, at 2:51 PM, November 07, 2005  

  • Truly a great article, Laura. So glad someone else can wrap their hands around the issues.
    Legally, I didn't think borrowing from TIF funds was legal either. Wish I could answer you on that one. That's either a Council question or State Board of Accounts question.
    Glad to hear the State Audit is back in. Glad to hear the numbers Maury and taxpayers had were correct. Let the truth come out.
    Ceece:
    Taxpayers uncovered two sets of books being kept under the last administration, while our current Mayor was a Councilman. The Controller at that time publicly admitted to Council that was true, at which time Councilman Garner came out of his chair (literally).
    Taxpayers then discovered the hire dates for fire and police officers had all switched on the computer to the same date. The hire date changing like that indicated the data had been compromised, or lost. Pensions, longevity, vacation, pay raises, merit, etc., were driven off of that hire date. Some people were over paid, some not paid, underpaid; it was a sad situation.
    The State of IN recently came back and said they could not perform audits for the years of 2002 & 2003. We have been waiting for 2004, which is being referred to in a posting here today.
    The Sewer Board hired a firm to do what taxpayers were told was an Audit at the end of last year, but it turned out to only be a 5 month Financial Statement, because they couldn't do an Audit, either.
    The last Administration told taxpayers they were going to do an Audit on the sewers, but as taxpayers and the EPA recognized, the document had the words on it, and I repeat "This is not a true Audit. This audit was done according to City specifications". That was the disclaimer in very fine letters at the bottom of same.
    With a little more effort, I feel the books could have been reconstructed, because there were alot of hard copies out there amongst the City Clerk's records, monthly printouts, testimony to the State, and other data. Back-ups are required by law. No excuse available. To me, just me, criminal charges should have been filed. We won't go on to speculate why we think they weren't, seeing some taxpayers and council members complained to the then Prosecuting Attorney's office.
    This has been a long and ardurous journey by a lot of taxpayer advocates/activists over the past few years to arrive at the point we are at. The only thing different now is it is SO MUCH easier to disseminate the information. And, I thank you for that, Laura.
    Sorry for the dissertation, but this info has been building and compiling and not going away for awhile now.
    We are really starting to get at the heart of the issues, and I for one, am glad to see it.
    These issues may be and are convoluted, but so intertwined and intermeshed it isn't even funny.
    Unfortunately, this Mayor is currently being caught in the middle of all of the past mistakes made by previous administrations. He was annointed, though, by the "Party". Having witnessed the last Democrat Mayor announce after his last primary win that "this would be the last time he would run, and please meet your next Mayor" and he introduced James Garner. The only problem was, (besides taxpayers having never seen him at meeting one) Overton won as a protest vote; but, Garner was still the next Democrat Mayor. Go figure.
    Hope this helps in some small way in helping answer some good ?'s raised here by comments.
    My opinion.

    By Anonymous $$$$$$$$$, at 2:55 PM, November 07, 2005  

  • Very well done $$$$$$$$.
    You explained a lot about the issues in a little amount of space, but it reveals a large amount of the underlying structures that have been holding things together for the "good 'ol boys" for so many years.

    By Blogger East Ender, at 3:29 PM, November 07, 2005  

  • Bravo....Bravo...$$$$$$$$

    Gosh don't you feel better! After all this time getting to finally say what the truth is...

    How many Council Meetings did many of us sit thru the last 5-6 years? And how many piles of minutes and documents do many of us have in boxes.

    And some people in this town think the so called little people are...well what is the name they seem "TO CALL" many of us...???

    Gosh darn alot of these new people don't want to hear the truth do they! They're about to get a real education on the Power of The New Albany Little People.

    And watch who will get elected as a protest vote against Garner hands down. It's in the making as we speak.

    Lots of interesting information getting ready to hit.

    Thanks $$$$$
    Excellent Job!

    By Anonymous DEMOCRATS, at 3:56 PM, November 07, 2005  

  • Property Tax Bills are due this week. Don't forget to pay your fair share.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 4:29 PM, November 07, 2005  

  • No thanks needed, either one of you. We appreciate a way to share, let's see, maybe 10 to 12 years worth of meetings; and dozens of boxes in various houses.

    The problem is you have to keep going back and unearthing the years you pile on top, when someone new comes along and needs some history. We are just glad to share and help inform. That is our only "agenda" in life right now, though I'm sure others may (and have the right to) disagree.

    Hopefully, we can stick to the issues. Have been waiting on answers to the storm water questions, noticed we aren't getting any. Gee... And that's my opinion.

    By Anonymous $$$$$$$$$, at 6:02 PM, November 07, 2005  

  • Don't forget Council - first Monday and third Thursday of each month. That means tonight.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 6:03 PM, November 07, 2005  

  • Democrats,

    You would be suprised to know how may of us Dem's are reading this blog. There will be a definite shake up in the 2007 election year but as of yet we don't know who the "shaker" will be. But we do have our eye on someone.

    As you know, the "old" Democrats do things differently than the "new" ones. We support whoever we think will do the best job for our city, even if it means thinking outside of the box.

    The old Democrats are concerned and unhappy about the mismanagement and wasteful spending and outrageous ins. prems. for retired firefighters. It is hard to believe my husband, as a firefighter has spent the majority of his life protecting and serving the citizens of New Albany.

    Our party is having a lot of problems at this time but we will resolve them. We all need to stick together, you know the old saying, "United we stand, divided we fall."

    We are proud to have our sticker, "Jimmy G. you work for me" to remind us of what a mistake we made. And plan to correct this mistake in 2007.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 6:17 PM, November 07, 2005  

  • Council short & sweet tonight. BTW, Kochert was there; only Seabrook wasn't.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 9:03 PM, November 07, 2005  

  • Mr. Mayor,

    You made a statement at the City Council meeting tonight. That you were having a Sanitation meeting in your office.

    Tuesday November 8th at 4:00 P.M.
    And you invited all the City Council Members.

    Has this meeting been posted according to the Open Door Law?

    By Anonymous PUBLIC, at 9:36 PM, November 07, 2005  

  • The old Democrats are just that -- old.

    Time for a change.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 9:52 PM, November 07, 2005  

  • An earlier comment said that the Mayor is having a Sanitation meeting on Tuesday, and invited the City Council.

    Has that meeting been posted?
    Where is the posting?

    Where is the meeting going to be ?
    What time?

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 10:46 PM, November 07, 2005  

  • As a Strong Democrat, I would hope we leave this as a non-political blog site, and also not use devisive words like "old" vs "new" Democrats. Everyone knows there are good and bad in every Party. The word "old" is very, shall we say, politically incorrect. Do you mean "old" people who have been around and some WHO ARE honest; or do you mean "old" Dems that have held office for awhile? It's not a very user friendly term, I'll give it that.
    But, you are entitled to your opinion and me mine.
    Last time I checked my pulse, we were ALL IN IT together.
    Now, can we get back to some issues? Where are the answers to some of the postings, especially the stormwater and the sanitation meeting? Let's not get bogged down in political c.r.a.p. These issues are too big for the moment and can't be distracted from, again in the name of politics. That's just how I feel.

    By Anonymous A Democrat, at 11:20 PM, November 07, 2005  

  • HEY BAYLOR HERB! WHEN YOU GONNA LEARN THAT YOUR COMMENTS ON THIS BLOG DON'T MEAN A THING? Your like the "TIN MAN" in the WIZARD OF OZ needing a brain, when you find one come back and visit THE EDUCATORS on this blog. That's my opinion!

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 11:31 PM, November 07, 2005  

  • Ceece -
    It isn't very easy to get an independent accounting firm to explore the City financials when you do not have the cooperation of the City. But, when the State cannot complete audits, or "make heads or tails" of the books, that should be a big red flag that says something isn't right.
    Add to that the course of events that have played out in terms of budgets and funds being shifted around, and the picture begins to come into focus. Fuzzy math.
    What we are trying to accomplish here is to dissiminate the info that we feel every citizen ought to be aware of. Documentation is not a problem, as there are many of us with boxes and boxes of documents that are public record.
    A lot of people have worked a long time, attended a lot of meetings, and volunteered a lot of effort to bring accountability back into the political fray for New Albany.
    Our City is in dire financial straights, and shuffling money from one place to another is going to catch up with us if some difficult decisions are not made in a timely fashion.
    Instead of borrowing more debt, we should be making cuts where there are opportunities to save money.
    So far, we've seen very little evidence of this approach.
    Think of your own household budget, and what you would do if you kept coming up short on your monthly bills. Do you borrow money from credit cards? Do you hit up all your friends and family for money? Or, do you cut your spending and give up a little of the luxuries?
    We have watched in horror as our city has utilized the first 2 options, and done very little, if any, of the last.
    As for the Storm water "user fee" I do indeed think that fees should be calculated on a square footage scale in order to make things as fair as possible.
    They had plenty of notice (years) that this mandate was coming, and it could have been put together in a much more equitable fashion. But, equality doesn't seem to be the primary goal.
    The interim fee will be 12 months for residential properties.
    Finally, you are absolutely right... it sucks, it is hard work, and we've made plenty of enemies. However, we persist, because getting to the facts is what's important, and it's worth it.
    Thanks for asking good questions, and for pursuing reasonable discourse.

    By Blogger East Ender, at 12:45 AM, November 08, 2005  

  • Ceece,

    I attended the Council Meeting last night and did request a complete audit. I too, feel this is necessary and will continue to hound the council until this is done. I don't know how they go about it or who contacts the accounting firm. But the way I look at it I am just a citizen and taxpayer. The Council was elected to represent us and they need to do the work. If we pressure them, they will pressure the "powers that
    be" until our demands are met.

    We need to keep asking, finally they will get tired of hearing us ask. In fact one of the Council Members encouraged me to do just that. Sometimes I think my words fall on deaf ears, but sometimes our voices do make a difference.

    By Blogger shirley baird, at 7:30 AM, November 08, 2005  

  • uh the "tin man" needed a heart...

    By Blogger ceece, at 8:57 AM, November 08, 2005  

  • The meeting regarding sanitation is the special task force meeting so it does not require the open meetings law posting.

    Regarding an independent audit, who's going to pay for it? Tell you what you little people come up with the cash and maybe the council would go for the audit, well come on people start collecting!

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 10:10 AM, November 08, 2005  

  • Anon 10:10AM

    Why don't they borrow the money from TIF to pay for the audit? They hit TIF for everything else.

    My own opinion, of course.

    By Blogger shirley baird, at 11:02 AM, November 08, 2005  

  • We, the TAXPAYERS, have paid for audits and not received them. When you get an "audit" in that states in small letters at the bottom "this was done according to City specifications", do you not feel something is wrong with the picture?
    We've paid over and over (last time I checked it was with OUR monies), only to never receive a true and accurate record. I would ask why you feel we should pay MORE out of our pockets, when some taxpayers HAVE BEEN DOING THEIR JOBS, by asking for same for the past 8 to 9 years...? And, then being lied to, and not getting same?
    We are back to people (elected officials?) wanting to blame this on taxpayers, but this time that bird won't fly; just ask the EPA. Thanks, my opinion.

    By Anonymous $$$$$$$$$$, at 11:40 AM, November 08, 2005  

  • To Anon at 10:46:
    The people were represented last night. We all spoke to our council reps and knew what was on the agenda.
    Sure do wish we could stop the name calling on here. Don't you feel WE ALL could make a contribution on this blog, without personal attacks?
    Why are we classifying people as "Baylorites", "little people", "old Democrats", "new Democrats", why? United we stand; divided we fall...words that are very familiar. Let's suck it up and stick to business, what do ya say? Gee, thanks.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 11:47 AM, November 08, 2005  

  • Special Task Force meeting??????
    Do you mean the Council sub-committee meeting?
    How and when did a "Task Force" get put in place?
    As for the audit... why can't the City come up with one that shows where all the money has gone to and what Departments have spent $$$ on? Taxpayers should never have to pay for an audit. It should be a standard part of the City's financial business, and done every year just like any other business. ACCOUNTABILITY!!!
    Oh, excuse me, James doesn't know how to run a business. Perhaps not understanding why an audit is such a vital component of financial well being is what sent his own businesses into bankruptcy and law suits. The City is soon to follow if we don't get him out of there.
    Just look back and see how close he has come to getting the city sued over this sanitation thing.
    He is incompetent. That's MY opinion.

    By Blogger East Ender, at 11:55 AM, November 08, 2005  

  • to anon at 11:47

    "Why are we classifying people as "Baylorites", "little people", "old Democrats", "new Democrats", why? United we stand; divided we fall...words that are very familiar. Let's suck it up and stick to business, what do ya say? "

    My sentiments exactly, preach it, preach it!

    By Blogger ceece, at 12:12 PM, November 08, 2005  

  • I will agree that there is no point in calling names and dividing the citizens who need to stand together to make progress.
    Our city is in terrible shape, and yes, I am guilty of calling out the Mayor, but that's his job, he took it on, and I DO hold him accountable.
    We need to unite and find a way for everyone's rights to be protected, and our money to be spent wisely. We are paying the price of past administration's that have not followed the rules.
    Let's not let it happen again.
    Frustration sometimes gets the best of all of us. But, there is no need to be hateful or spitefull.
    Our energy should be put towards making New Albany a better place to live for EVERYONE. Not just the financially privileged.

    By Blogger East Ender, at 12:21 PM, November 08, 2005  

  • is New Albany filled with the financially priveleged?

    http://quickfacts.census.gov/qfd/states/18/1852326.html

    I don't think so.

    By Blogger ceece, at 12:48 PM, November 08, 2005  

  • You're right. The majority of New Albany residents are NOT financially privileged. I am very familiar with the Census, as I have done many research projects using that data.
    The question is, can we get the Mayor to understand the data?
    Too many of his initiatives are difficult for the majority of our citizens to withstand. He doesn't seem to care.
    It's getting very difficult for many folks to remain in owner-occupied housing. That's why our rental rate is so high (47%) and this has become a "transient" city. Thus, the deterioration of many neighborhoods.

    By Blogger East Ender, at 1:21 PM, November 08, 2005  

  • But we must retain perspective about the roots of the rental housing problem, because they've been nurtured through numerous previous administrations that are united by a complete lack of imagination when it comes to the type of people a community needs to move itself forward. That's why people shouldn't get enthusiastic about has-been previous mayors, who also did nothing to address the problem. If Valla Ann understands it, then she might be a good choice.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 1:41 PM, November 08, 2005  

  • We can have rental properties and still have a great city.

    Thus the importance of a code enforcer.
    (among other things)

    By Blogger ceece, at 3:41 PM, November 08, 2005  

  • A taxpayer activist in town has documents from 1995 reflecting Redevelopment's assessment of this City, related to their Community Block Development Funds (CDFG) and its' administration of same. They are looking for this socio-economic info in order to provide it for a ten year comparison between 1995 and 2005. That ought to be interesting, hey?

    Some of us know about the CDFG money and the Galt St and Market St areas. This is an area some taxpayers feel was overlooked for over 15 years. There are probably other areas people feel these monies could have been applied, too, don't get me wrong. We've wrestled with this animal before, and this should be right up someone else I know alley to make the "sociol" and "economic" comparisons between then and now; how far HAS NA COME?
    They've got to go through 10 years of files though, so don't get all in a hurry. It should be prove interesting, to say the least.
    Alot of people may also be interested in how "rental" properties (and it seems to be the same old ones) and their involvements with the past due sewer bills. Sewer Board has been coming to grips with Landlords keeping the water in their name rather than the tenants; but...
    Again, it's just $$$$$$$, but that's my opinion.

    By Anonymous $$$$$$$$, at 4:30 PM, November 08, 2005  

  • I believe what you are speaking of is the Community Development Block Grant Funds (CDBG) that are supposed to be used in certain target areas (Galt & Market included) to rehabilitate blighted areas of housing, and repairs to infrastructure.
    They recently released their new five year plan and 1 year action plan. I will dig it out and give you more information.
    The City is considered an
    "entitlement" community, and automatically recieves about $800K per year.
    Garner originally put David White in the Director's position, and he made such a mess of it that we almost lost our entitlement.
    Another political favor gone awry.
    The owner occupied rehabilitation program, administered by Sharon Becht, is funded with this money, but they only manage to do about 8 houses per year for the whole City.
    I hear this program is going away.

    By Blogger East Ender, at 6:30 PM, November 08, 2005  

  • To anonymous at 1:41 -
    What do you mean, exactly, by the
    "type of people a community needs to move itself forward"?
    This is the 'elitist' attitude that helps nothing and no one.
    It insinuates that people of lower economic status are not worthy of a decent community to live in.
    Please tell me I misunderstood.

    By Blogger East Ender, at 7:44 PM, November 08, 2005  

  • Elitist? Hardly. I meant homeowners, families, people for whom education is a priority, and those who are employed in the creative economy.

    This transformation is taking place now, because this city possesses the raw materials for this type of success.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 10:19 PM, November 08, 2005  

  • anonymous 1:41

    Have you ever discussed these questions with Valla Ann? I am more than likely to believe you haven't or you would not have written those comments. And if you had any contact with her. The one thing of many is she does look at the whole big picture of the many problems of New Albany. She is a success story because she is not afraid to work hard, and believe me if anyone thinks it is easy running a Bed & Breakfast. Everyone needs to spend a weekend at her place. She is not just the owner. She is in there doing the majority of the work. She does not just run a B&B. She also does Weddings, Dinner Parties, Banquets,Business Meetings, etc. Not counting all the boards she sits on. And also with her many charity organizations. And many causes she does support. She is very open minded. And looks at the whole picture and can determine what the bottom line is. Regardless if it is homeowners problem, small business problem, Dealing with Corporations, taxpayers problems, Rental Property, education. Or what ever the real problems are. She see's a problems and looks for answers and solutions. She says what she means and means what she says. And does what needs to be done.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 11:17 PM, November 08, 2005  

  • And that's your opinion, right?

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 12:08 AM, November 09, 2005  

  • My point being that if she understands it, that's wonderful, but if she really does, then what she'll be doing won't be very palatable to many of the people posting here. The world doesn't stop spinning because one or two people can't keep up with it. My guess is Valla Ann understands this perfectly, and you'd turn on her at the drop of a hat.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 9:42 AM, November 09, 2005  

  • Laura, What are these, threats? Here we thought we were going to keep to the issues, but wrong again. Issues are being hijacked again, in the name of politics.

    All we can say is we aren't feeling threatened by what "she" is going to do to ANY of us posting here on the blog. Hope that doesn't stop anyone else from expressing their thoughts about the issues.

    Hang in there Laura. That's our opinion.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 11:33 AM, November 09, 2005  

  • A question: What does "employed in a creative economy" mean? Self-employed in ? Curious, that is all.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 11:36 AM, November 09, 2005  

  • Personally, I feel there is a lot of frustration speaking out. The Mayor's race is TWO yeas away. As John Stossel says: "Gimme me a break!" My opinion.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 11:40 AM, November 09, 2005  

  • Laura, Why does the Tribune story still keep insisting the costs of the cans, lids and trucks were/are to come out of sanitation's budget? The cans were to come out of one fund, the lids out of another and the trucks out of another. If you SUBTRACT all of that from Sanitation's budget (as should be), and take the monies from the funds where Council passed it to be taken from, we would not be talking about this.
    Somebody, please, speak UP.
    Thank you. Our opinion. Daggone those big red monsters.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 1:08 PM, November 09, 2005  

  • You're absolutely right. The council approved the cans to be paid from riverboat funds and the trucks from EDIT funds.
    This approval wasn't followed, and the costs were put in the figure of sanitation losses because they ultimately paid for all of it from the sewer "slush fund".
    Now, we are paying for it with sewer rate hikes.
    Someone needs to sue.
    My opinion.

    By Blogger East Ender, at 3:28 PM, November 09, 2005  

  • Thank you, Amen. Doesn't it infuriate you when YOU DON'T HAVE THE HISTORY, and try to tell the rest of us who say through the meetings and collected all of the paperwork to KEEP TRACK OF OUR MONIES, and we're still WRONG?
    God save NA!

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 4:05 PM, November 09, 2005  

  • Let's see, under the last administration, oh, probably about five or six years of info to delve through. We'll try and pull it down another way. Thanks Laura.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 7:53 PM, November 09, 2005  

  • The election may be 2 years away you jackass,does't mean we can't ask for this ones resignation. Why do you think this blog is here? Certainly not to waste time and effort listening to your C.R.A.P. MY OPINION!

    By Anonymous FED UP TAXPAYER, at 8:27 PM, November 09, 2005  

  • We promised Laura this would not be a POLITICAL BLOG. Create your own in support of Valla Ann. We don't have the time nor the effort at this time, too many issues. If you want to take that personally, or don't understand, I understand. And, that is my ipinion!

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 2:43 AM, November 10, 2005  

  • And I would ask of you please, to never refer to me as a JACKASS, again. You have your nerve; sorry you can't civilly beg to disagree.

    That's between you and the Republicans. Go visit their blog site. Have a good day and leave Laura's blog alone for your hatefulness and your political hijacking of the issues. I know I'd appreciate it, but that's is my opinion. Take it or leave it, I REALLY DON'T CARE.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 2:46 AM, November 10, 2005  

  • The person I called a jackass. I truly owe you an apology. I think that I got caught up in the moment of others continueously making nasty comments to Laura and her blog that I misunderstood your comment. I did not disagree with you, I just feel that if we allow Garner to continue to run this city without the citizens of New Albany stepping in now, we are in for a long and painful economic drain from the tax payers pockets. Again I sincerly apologize. p.s. Yea Garner please give us a break.

    By Anonymous APOLOGY, at 11:33 PM, November 10, 2005  

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