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Letter: There’s a hole in the bucket (Dear Liza)


October 18, 2017

One thing is clear as I go to city council meetings: there is a hole in the bucket. It’s pretty hard to carry water in a leaky bucket. Just ask dear Henry.

The bucket is our budget. The hole is expenses that we didn't budget for.

Here are a couple of examples from this year’s council meetings: $30,000 spent on a consultant for a project budgeted at $75,000. Another $40,000 was spent on a consultant to come up with a project plan due in a year and a half.

As I attend council meetings, I’m seeing 'asks' like this almost every month - an additional $10,000 here and $60,000 there. It doesn’t take long to blow a $250,000 hole in the budget (bucket) doing that.

We shouldn’t be surprised that we can’t seem to find enough money to build more sidewalks.

Of all six candidates running for council, only one candidate said they would vote to raise our taxes. Only one person thinks that adding more water to a leaky budget is the solution. I think that’s telling. That person happens to be my opponent this year.

You don’t fix your bucket by adding more water to it - or in this case, tax dollars. That also means it’s of dubious value to talk about how to plan for a sustainable financial future or about raising taxes until we’ve plugged the hole. So fix it, dear Henry.

Note: this doesn’t mean that we don’t need more water (money) – it just means that we should fix the hole first. At this point, there is no reason to think that adding more tax dollars to the budget ensures that we’ll spend it correctly. It will likely leak out. You don’t need to have your Master’s degree in Business to know that there’s still a hole in the bucket.

One version of the nursery rhyme ends with Liza asking dear Henry to use his head to fix the bucket. It’s a great reminder that as we look to shore up our budget bucket perhaps using our head is the first thing we should do, not the last.

Tony Markey, MBA

Candidate for council position 3


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