Speak Out Loud NA

Sunday, November 27, 2005

Coming, To a Town Near You (real near)

The dinners are over, the families have all returned to their respective homes, belly's are full, and naps have been taken, so that must mean it's time to return to the reality of life and living in the City of New Albany.
Suddenly, my belly is churning, the comfort of my couch is calling, and the feelings of safety when surrounded by family, is tugging at my mind.
I wish we could just continue the Holiday, and go about our mundane little lives, without having to worry about what's coming down the pike next to collide with our collective well being.
Many activities have taken place over the last few days, while we've been stuffing our turkeys, and our stomachs, with good food and good cheer.
We've had a New Albany Police Captain arrested for drunk driving (Fox 41 TV News), the sanitation privatization contract has been selected (published in the Tribune), and we've gotten word of the impending sewer rate increase (Courier Journal).
Boy, the Garner administration sure knows how to mess up a perfectly good Holiday.
It's interesting that these contentious issues just happened to come into the spotlight over the days when most folks are busy with family and friends.
Even so, you can trust us when we say that every topic will recieve the attention it deserves in the coming days.
Indeed, we even have some more news to talk about that hasn't managed to make the media (yet). You'll understand why when you read the next posting.
It's been an interesting weekend, and there will be some lively discussions, I'm sure. So, rest up a little more, then put on your s*** waders, and rejoin us Sunday evening for full updates on the latest round of ineptness and mismanagement.
It's a viscious cycle that must be interrupted.
Remember the next City Council Meeting is December 5th. Mark your calanders. You won't want to miss this one.
Meanwhile, contact me personally if you have something you wish to discuss, or if you would like more information about things that will not be posted on the blog.
I hope everyone and their families have returned safely to their homes, and that your time together was special.

Thursday, November 24, 2005

a href=" title="external link"> HAPPY THANKSGIVING!

I hope everyone enjoys a wonderful Thanksgiving with family and friends that mean so much to you. This is a day for giving thanks for all we are blessed with in our lives. Take this opportunity to tell those around you that they are in your heart, and in your thoughts, even if the time together is brief.
Although we all face our own problems, and we all have burdens to bear, we must not forget that there are many reasons to be grateful for our blessing in life.
No matter your religion, or your beliefs, this is a day of reflection. Celebrate in the way that matters most to you and yours.
Just don't forget, to include in your thoughts today, the ones who are less fortunate, the ones who have endured fewer blessings, and vow to do what you can to create better lives and more blessings for everyone.
I recieved a heart wrenching reminder, from a good friend, of all I have to be thankful for, and a reason to remember those who have suffered, yet endure. I have created a link to this message, so you and your family can feel especially blessed this Holiday, and remember to say a prayer for those who have endured a living nightmare in New Orleans. Simply click on the last "Link" note at the bottom of this posting.
To the good soul who sent this to me, I thank you, and I admire your efforts to keep others in our thoughts and prayers.
To all of us: Be good in your heart, and gentle in your ways.
Happy Thanksgiving Everyone.

Dalai Lama wisdom: "Approach love and cooking with reckless abandon."

Sunday, November 20, 2005

a href=" title="external link"> The Sewer Saga Continues

We are indeed now seeing the beginnings of the predicted sewer rate increases.
It seems there is much more work that needs to be done, and there just isn't enough money (again) in the till to stop the massive overflows that are still occurring.
We have been talking about the areas of concern, and the existance of the New Albany "Potty Police", which is a team of hardy souls (God luv 'em) who go out and document each and every overflow and gushing giser of raw sewage that explodes into the streets and streams of our fair(?) city with more regularity than most of us can claim ourselves.
The system is apparently plauged with problems, not all of which are claimed to be related to the failings of the lines.
If you didn't catch it in the hard copy, read the Courier Journal article regarding the EPA investigation into allegations of "sabatoge" to the sewer computer system last month that resulted in an overflow of about 5 million gallons of raw sewage. Just click on the link at the bottom of this posting.
Meanwhile, we've assembled some thoughts and questions from readers who are quite concerned about just how and when, and how much, it will be before we finally get any relief from the frequent release of raw sewage from the failing system.

I'd like to know the answers to the following questions, as a sewer rate payer, since it seems they're talking about ANOTHER sewer rate hike.
The first $40 million just didn't seem to get it. Gee.
1. Why did the City (attorney Greg Fifer) give Georgetown an extension for repayment of the monies they owe; especially since they had it, and they have now lost their Riverboat money. Because they were saving it to pay us?

2. Is Georgetown going to build their own plant? Or, will Lanesville do it for them?

3. Are any of these big overflows the past few weeks related to Ruckman's lines coming into the Robert E. Lee station?
Testimony was given at the State level the Robert E. Lift and Corydon Pike and every other line would and could handle these new lines, without further construction. Is it coincidence that overflows have increased since the Ruckman line came on?

4. Rate payers testified at the State level, when we got the State Revolving Loan Fund (SRLF) bonds, that this "plan" would not work (as did then Councilman Garner). We testified as to the Robert E. Lift, Corydon Pike, the inner City, etc., etc., all being left out of this "plan". Nothing was getting fixed, the system was only being expanded. This was the WRONG plan.

Now, who was correct, and do you really think anyone's going to give the City more bonds, based upon our track record of non-compliance?

5. Do you think they will do a formal rate study, as REQUIRED by law? We're not sure they did so the last time. We cannot allow them to continue skirting the laws.
I'm worried. Worried for the rate payers, because we STILL HAVE TO FIX THE SEWERS, AGAIN! Who's got the money? And this Administration wants salary raises?

6. The chronological order of events are this: Overton signed the new amended Consent Decree; she selected the "plan" in a matter we won't tackle right now; she sold the Bonds, and she started the construction, and demanded it be done before she left office. Garner is just finishing up her work and signing legal documents that we're just not sure he should be signong, because of the lack of certain things we also won't go into (like good legal advice, etc.).

7. How many of these individuals involved with the sewer "plan" actually read the Consent Decree with the EPA? It was required reading, per the agreement, for anyone touching our sewers. Hmmmmmm.
Mayor Garner, could you please give us the answer to this one?
Like the Potty Police say, how many more MILLIONS DO YOU WANT TO SPEND? I wonder?
You should wonder too.
I'm worried at the liability this City (US) may face due to some of the actions we have caused/undertaken because of the conflicts of interest between the Sewer Board Attorney and certain developers. How can one attorney represent both?

The EPA seems to have a handle on some issues (sabatoge?), and the State has to be involved in any negotiations, so we'll see. The press is now getting involved, and these are all good signs for tax and rate payers. We know the administration does not like the EPA. But, we the public, need to realize the city is in litigations, and therefore they cannot talk directly to each other. The EPA, however, can talk to us, as citizens, all day long, because they work for us. Right now, I'm banking on the EPA.
There was a prediction made when all of this originally went down, and that was:
The "Plan" would not work; there would be a cover-up; the cover-up would be exposed; and then the chips would fall where they may.
Which stage do you feel we are in now, seeing we still haven't started our 1 year test period by the EPA, nor have we gotten any credits, and we're having several mysterious overflows. There is a lawsuit going on with ADM (sewer contractors), etc. You tell me what you think.
It ain't heavy, it's my money! It's your money too.

Saturday, November 19, 2005

Greenway Resident Input Meeting

As we've been reading in the paper, funding to continue the progress of the Ohio River Greenway project is back on track, and work will soon begin anew.
To those who have followed the efforts of Mr. Al Goodman and the restoration of the Moser Tannery buildings, along with the Loop Island Wetlands Conservatory, you will recognize that the pending Greenway work is integrel to his project.
I urge everyone who is interested in seeing the Mr. Goodwin's efforts realized, as well as revitalization of our riverfront, and the opportunities it will present, to attend this meeting and voice your opinions.

A public forum to discuss the New Albany Greenway and gather input from residents will be held on on Tuesday, November 22nd, from 6-7:30pm at The Grand, 138 West Market Street, New Albany. Ms. Valla Ann Bolovschak, recently appointed to the Ohio River Greenway Commission by Governor Mitch Daniel, will host the meeting. Please bring your comments, suggestions and questions in writing for submission to the Army
Corp of Engineers and the Greenway Commission.

The Greenway Commission will be focusing on New Albany in 2006 so we encourage
Floyd County residents to attend, but all others are welcome. Drafts of the Greenway plans are now available for review at your local library.

For those who cannot attend, please mail your comments to Ms. Bolovschak,
600 East Main Street, New Albany IN 47150 or e-mail them to
info@admiralbicknell.com by November 25th, 2005.

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

a href=" title="external link"> Take A Look Around... (Part 2)

To continue the saga of housing conditions in New Albany and the associated problems, I want to start by addressing the issue of upkeep of owner-occupied housing. Later, we'll move on to rental properties and the reasons we had to wait so long for an Ordinance Enforcement Officer.
As we've discussed here before, the economic health of many families in New Albany is poor. According to the 2000 Census data, in 1999 more than 11% of families were living in poverty. That's more than 1,140 families folks. Just less than 30% of families with children under 5 years old are below the povery line. A lot, huh?
Want to talk about single mothers? A staggering 58% with children under 5 years of age are poverty stricken.
Do you think things have gotten better in New Albany in the last 5-6 years? Or, do you think maybe we've lost a few good employers, and gained a few more low-income renters who have headed this way from Louisville, with drug labs in tow?
What about the upper income families you ask? How many do you suppose have stayed in the inner-city? How much new development has been occuring in the County in the last 5 years? C'mon folks, use your heads. The picture isn't getting any brighter. We've all noticed the increase in 'For Sale' signs and 'For Rent' signs. They're popping up all over the place. I would bet money (what little I have), that in a 10 minute trip through New Albany, a person could easily count 40-50 available housing units of one description or another.
There are approximately 16,000 households in the City of New Albany. The median household income is (listen closely Timmy) less than $35,000 in the City. More than a third of all households earn less then $25,000 per year. The median mortagage cost is $814 per month, and we still have to allow for taxes, insurance, utilities, car payments, childcare, groceries, clothing, and other miscelaneous costs.
To make things worse, it is maddening that the City exacerbates these situations by continuously throwing more fees and taxes on the citizens, especially property owners, to recover funds that were mis-appropriated, or to create funds for projects that citizens have no voice in. Backing bonds for non-optional recreational projects with property taxes, then telling us they cannot continue to fund garbage pickup, is enough to make a person want to go up to that third floor and smack somebody.
I would really like for someone to explain to me just what in the hell they mean by assessing a Stormwater "user fee" onto our water bills!? Along with multiple sewage rate increases for $41 million in repairs, and the system still isn't working right, the water bill is quickly becoming a major household expense. Now, we are hearing the rumblings of another impending sewer rate hike as raw sewage is still spewing into the streets at alarming rates with every measurable rainfall.
To top it all off, now they want to privatize sanitation, or at least convince us that a 50% raise in those rates will be necessary. Frankly, I think we'll wind up paying that no matter which way it goes. Only, maybe not for the first year. After all, we have to pay for those trucks they are going to GIVE AWAY. Furthermore, we have been paying a recycling fee for, how many years now? The problem is, we are not actually recycling. Where is that money going?
To add insult to injury, the Mayor has decided that they all deserve raises in the next budget! Meanwhile, for the common citizen, the gap between paychecks is widening with virtually every resolution that is pushed through Council.
Given these circumstances, I think it's safe to say that an average household in the City of New Albany is spending most, if not all, of their monthly income just keeping up with the bills. Let alone having lump sums of money left over for major housing repairs. Look around at what is happening.
This is a sad fact of life here people. We have a huge portion of our population that is not making it when it comes to large expenditures for acquiring a home, or the necessary maintenence of a home already acquired. There are people in need of a little help, a bit of understanding, and a better chance of improving their lot in life economically.
If the administration, or anyone else for that matter, cannot understand why the citizenry is going to continuously show up and ask the hard questions of every decision that is being made that affects the money that flows from household budgets into the dirty hands of the political machine in New Albany, then they are assuming we are complete idiots and easy marks for more money to finance their multiple City paychecks, their City vehicles, and their City cell phones.
When I hear certain people criticize the conditions of some homes, and simply assume that the owner is just lazy, or sloppy, or indifferent to standards of upkeep, it infuriates me. What I see is someone who is stuck in an impossible situation, and just needs a little help. It is callous and cold-hearted to simply suggest they should give up their homes if they cannot afford to keep things in as good condition as the neighbors would like to see. Most inner-city neighborhoods are mixed income neighborhoods. That means the very well off may live just down the street from the not so well off. We are all neighbors. What happens at my house effects your house.
One program I have always hoped to accomplish with Neighborhood Associations is to find ways to help our neighbors keep their homes in good repair by making arrangements with contractors to take on young apprentices, who will work at reduced rates, and get costs subsidized with grant dollars. Eligible residents could have repairs done at reduced costs, while youths are learning a lucrative trade. This would go a long way towards keeping up appearances in the neighborhood, creating new jobs, and reducing poverty. A very good investment if you ask me, as it would also help to stabilize property values, and keep everyone in safe and decent housing. A pretty good return for the dollars invested.
Could we dare think the City might utilize some of the funding it receives, such as EDIT, CDBG, TIF, or UEZ targets to accomplish something so integral to economic development as stable, well conditioned, housing and neighborhoods would be?
Obviously not.
Therefore, we must do all we can to stop the administration from squeezing every last drop of income out of the households of New Albany. Otherwise, we'll just keep on sliding down the slippery slope of poverty that is engulfing our City.

Sunday, November 13, 2005

Take a Look Around... (Part 1)

Hope everyone has had a nice relaxing weekend. If you're household is anything like mine, we have been taking advantage of this wonderful November weather to get some much needed work done around the house. After all, we can't spend ALL our time trying to right this listing ship called New Albany. It will wear a body out.
Every now and then, we need to step back, away from the flames, and take a new look at the surrounding landscape, take in the larger picture.
There are a lot of things to be thankful for, if we look hard enough for them. Even with all the issues we are facing, and all the work that must be done, we cannot lose sight of the things that keep us going, the things that keep us here.
I believe that most of the folks who participate in the discussions we have here, are folks who truly love New Albany, and feel a 'duty', so to speak, to repair the things that are no longer working well for the City, and to improve the things that can make our community a better place to live for EVERYONE who calls New Albany home. It matters not, whether a person is a home owner, or a renter. We all have a home in this city, and the functions of the administration that runs this city affects us all. So, take a look around at your neighborhood and ask yourself, "How much of the conditions of this neighborhood are accountable to the City and the services its supposed to supply to its residents?"
We are all conscious of our immediate everyday surroundings, and we just naturally do the things that make our little spaces nice for ourselves. For those who are fortunate enough to be home owners, the constant work sometimes seems overwhelming, but the benefits far outweigh the costs. Not only the costs to our pocketbooks, but to our time, and to our energy. When you have invested in a home, you do all you can to make it nice, to make it a reflection of yourself, to make it something you can be proud of. The greater the sense of investment, the greater the efforts are to protect that investment. Thus, in the neighborhoods where owner-occupied housing is greater than renter-occupied, usually, the upkeep of the homes and the yards reflect those efforts, and those investments.
Now, this is not to say that anyone who rents is a lousy housekeeper. Indeed, it can be quite the contrary. My own mother, my sister, and many of my friends are renters, and their places are always very pleasant, and very beautiful, inside and out.
However, these are folks who have 'chosen' to rent, and have chosen who to rent from, due to some of the benefits that come along with renting from a responsible property owner. Benefits such as major housing upkeep expenses, as well as the costs of things like homeowners insurance and property taxes. These expenses make a huge impact on the household income, and can be the difference that allows for the discretionary income for things that make life a little nicer.
However, there is a huge number of folks who, unfortunately, have not chosen to rent, but rather, are 'stuck' in rental housing due to the ever growing cost of home-ownership, and the limited availability of safe, decent, affordable housing. The sad part is, because of this City's lack of effective housing standards, the availability of safe, decent, affordable rental housing is also limited.
So, what's the REAL choices? Scrimp and save for years only to have the minimal down payment necessary to purchase an "affordable" home, which means it will most likely be in need of $10-$15,000 worth of repairs, or rent some strangely configured apartment that's been carved out of a once single family residence, with a landlord who's obliged to doing nothing but collecting the rent check?
C'mon, what's YOUR choice?

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Words of Wisdom

I have decided to post a previous contribution to this blog that captured the precise problems and situational circumstances that plague our City today.
I believe that this interpretation of what is happening within the Political Administration of New Albany, and the inner workings of the decision making processes, is worth its words in gold.
To whoever wrote this, One Voice, you have hit many nails right on the head, and you have my admiration and thanks as you are a voice of reason and intelligence.

For the Speak Out Loud NA readers:
To those who value knowledge, truth, freedom, and the sanctity of life as their guiding ideas I hope I can help each of us decipher through the lying, deceit, and struggle that is New Albany politics.

I hope I can inform you about the biggest problems facing our city and my solutions to solve them.

First of all I doubt that Randy has yet to write a single column that has not been manipulated in some detail in order to help Mayor Garner communicate his message.

And you would think that by now the Baylor crowd would have learned some lessons about twisting facts to suit his ideology and punishing those who seek answers and to tell the truth. But he continues to behave like Cinderella's evil stepsisters who cut their feet in order to fit them into the glass slipper, while he is butchering reality to make the fairy tale come out his way.

I come from a very political family so I would like to start with Politics 101.

Why would a successful business person with a Masters Degree raise over $100,000.00 to campaign and get elected to a job that only pays $50,000.00 per year? Does this person have a hidden agenda? I question the additional amount of money
that a politician can earn in a four year term.

It seems that the first rule of thumb in politics is this. You say and do whatever it takes to get elected. You make campaign promises that are impossible to keep and you promise political favors and jobs to those who help you attain your goal.

For example, Shane Gibson, he was his treasurer and now is the City Attorney and stands to make several thousands of dollars connected to the Scribner bonds. Tony Toran worked on the campaign and is now the City Operations Manager, this position was one that Mayor Garner promised to eliminate in as one of his campaign promises, even though Mr. Toran lacks the education, experience, and knowledge for such a position.
I am sure there are many others that we could all name.

The first rule of Politics 101 is this. You need an "inner circle" of friends. These are the people who work behind the scenes and their identities are protected.

Secondly, you have your "money people". These are the bankers, attorneys, realtors and developers.
This is one of the more serious problems that I see.

For example:

Greg Fifer, New Albany Sewer Board Attorney who is also the attorney for the rural developers. And he also represents:

David Ruckman
Robert Lynn
David Blankenbaker
Kent Witten

Now my question is this. Which other developers does Mr. Fifer represent? Second question. Is this not a conflict of interest for us? Why should Mr. Fifer have it both ways?

My solution to the problem would be this. He should be the Sewer Board Attorney and not represent the developers. Or quit the Sewer Board, choose one.

I also want to raise awareness about these other issues, and give solutions.

I totally agree with what $$$$$$$$ said. But let's go a one step further. As I have always been taught, you start at the beginning. In my opinion this is the first thing that needs to be done. Have all accounts frozen. There should be no raises or additional spending. There should be a complete audit in order to discover exactly what we have to work with. We should demand a full investigation into the previous audits. We should focus in ensuring the police and fire department have all their necessities, everything we need to keep our city safe. No police cars should be allowed to be taken home outside of the City of New Albany. To help cut costs, the fire dept. should not go on ambulance runs. There should be no new hiring. All cellphones should be left in the offices after 4:00PM. All personal calls should be charged back to each employee. All city elected officials who are furnished vehicles and gas should park their cars at 4:00PM, including the Mayor. We need to start at the top with each department to sacrifice for all of us.

In my opinion, Scribner Place should be between the YMCA and Caesars. I agree that Scribner Place should be built but the city and the taxpayers should be left out of it. Look at how the $400,000.00 could benefit the city as a whole. So both sides win.

In my opinion, the Stormwater fee should be put, (even though it has been mandated), on the backs of the developers, and not the taxpayers of New Albany. i support the county plan. My question is this. If the Stormwater Project is so urgent, where has the Mayor and the Sewer Board been in the past two years?

In my opinion, each account should be used for it's designated purpose. The sewer account funds should not be used to cover sanitation or used as an emergency fund.

In my opinion, Mayor Garner has already made up his mind to privatize Sanitation. I do not agree with him. I would much rather see my water and sewer bill raised to keep these employees on the city payroll. Without the proper equipment it is impossible for anyone to do their job properly. This is a costly mistake made by the previous administration.

In my opinion, one of the major issues of which I have a serious problem, like many citizens of New Albany, is the same people sitting on the Council who are paid to be on other boards of which their votes can affect the decisions of the City Council.

Solution, an Ordinance stating that a City Council Member cannot sit on any board which could cause a conflict of interest.

In my opinion, one of the biggest problems I see is everyone not paying their fair share of sewer bills with over $170.000.00 of uncollected sewer bills that also means, even if collected, sanitation and recycling are not recovered.

I personally have been told that the Mayor's intention is to bring the billing and collection of sewer bills back in house. I think this is a waste of taxpayers dollars to spend at least $40,000.00 for software, not counting the additional expense to the taxpayer. The Administration should be honest and tell the taxpayers what the $800,000.00 is to be used for. What do they have to hide?

I am only one person with one opinion but I think that I have given the taxpayers a solution to some of our problems. The Administration needs to show a need for all of these expenditures.

We need to stop being so divided, no more labels. No more "haves and have not's", or progressives and little people, etc. We all have a stake in the future of our city.

I read this on this blog a few months ago, "Common sense is seeing things as they are and doing things as they ought to be".

Mr. Mayor, listen to voice of reason.

Come on, hit me with your best shot.

Posted by ONEVOICE to Speak Out Loud NA at 10/18/2005 08:43:15 PM

Monday, November 07, 2005


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?


Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Seek the Truth

Well, once again, the Mayor has pulled out all the stops, and is going to push his version of the Stormwater mandate through the Council, just like he has done with so many other issues. He will do it by silencing the public, the very souls that will have to cough up this money. The proper processes are once again being circumvented.
This issue in not about $3 per month, it's about $800,000 and the reasons for making this a much larger, much more expensive project than it needs to be. AGAIN!
Just like the Scribner project. We could have had a nice YMCA downtown without it costing the City a $17 million bond and obligating $400K out of EDIT funds for the next 17 years!!!
Could the YMCA itself not offer the impetus for downtown investment that they so often refer to? How much difference does that swimming pool really make?
What we are trying to do is move New Albany forward, out of the dark ages of the "good 'ol boy" political machine and into the information age where there are no hidden agendas, and everyone's voice is heard and RESPECTED.
We have not undertaken such an aggressive movement just because we like to fuss and spend all our free time at meetings. We have undertaken a venture to rid this town of fiscal irresponsibility and unfair political processes.
The goal is to PROGRESS this town towards sound financial footing, and cohesive efforts of revitalization in our neighborhoods and the downtown district. We are not looking for a fight. We are looking for cooperation.
Those who harass and ridicule are only thugs who want nothing more than to have their private interests served, regardless of the impacts on the less fortunate. Their brutish attacks are detrimental to any attempts that may be made towards a cooperative effort to better our City.
If you notice, they have very little to say in the way of addressing the issues. Rather, the rhetoric is only meant to humiliate and degrade. Why?
The people, who have come together with the intent of trying to making New Albany a better place to live, are concerned that it becomes a better place for EVERYONE. Not just a select few.
We are committed to serving the interests of every citizen who lives here.
I wish we could say the same for our elected officials.