Our city manager is now in Milwaukee at the International City/County Manager's Association (ICMA) Annual Conference. On their web site they list 9 available city manager jobs. Conventions are a great place to network.
The first thing on the program Monday morning is a segment entitled Being Brave and Bold without Getting Fired.
Our city manager is extremely brave considering that she took on the Unions and actually negotiated with the IBEW and others and making strides, not to mention the law suits. I admire her for many things. She saved us $1.2 million this year with PBSO and County Fire/Rescue getting them to agree to dropping the supplement yearly payment. Of course we are now locked into a 10 year contract with a $5 million cancellation clause. One of her biggest achievements was ending the PB County water dispute so that we could continue with our RO. And we can't forget some of the Staff she has hired that are top notch like our Finance Director, Steve Carr. She has "taken on" personnel and the turn-over is off the charts. She has cut departmental budgets and staff. The make-up of our City Hall today is totally different than it was just a few short years ago. She has an extremely bold Budget. You can't find a damn thing in it. You can't get any bolder than she by raising taxes up the gazoo during the worst economy of record and didn't flutter an eyelash.
In this regressive city government, our city manager has stated that there has been citizen dissatisfaction that has been disruptive to her balancing the budget. It's always the other guy's fault. We are all supposed to be sheep and not question a thing. She wants everything implemented in the Budget, no exceptions, and has repeatedly said that we are a city that is broken and she, as city manager, is performing medical triage.
A curve ball was just thrown to her on Tuesday when the garbage assessment increase was turned down after much public outrage. She has talked about our active citizenry who "express rage and displeasure directly towards the Mayor, Commission and to Managers. Consequently, we have seen a lock-down at City Hall. We witnessed the Mayor's patience wearing thin last week to someone in the Chamber. We are not allowed to react emotionally to them taking our money; We, I guess, should be happy campers. No longer is it a quaint and friendly place to visit. It has at least 10 security cameras throughout, inside as well as out, with armed deputies in the Chamber and you now have to call for an appointment.
Our City history has been eliminated from City Hall other than the Pioneer Plaque that was re-hung after much insistence. All of the past commissions and former mayors' photographs were removed from the walls over two years ago. Although we have asked that they be reinstalled, that request has fallen on a deaf dais. Our Museum has been closed and we have our 100th anniversary in 2013.
Our city manager has vowed that the city no longer spend money that it does not have. That makes sense considering we have NO money left in our Reserves according to her Budget. Why did we ever spend money over the past few years that was not in the budget? Last year we had over $66 mil in Investment funds of which approximately 1/2 was unrestricted with over $7 mil in cash. We wonder about all that money. We wonder about our Fund Budgets in general and how much money the City is raising in new taxes. 5.25% here; 13% there...it all mounts up to a bundle. The only way to fill up the cookie jar again is by taxing those citizens who have been dissatisfied and who are a thorn in her side for even thinking about a complaint.
Her Staff fears her. A few act like they idolize her. Many of the residents don't trust her. She tells us that, "You are wrong." She will probably learn at this Seminar that having a regressive commission that does not listen to its constituents and that looks up to her as if she were some sort of guru or demigod is just what the doctor ordered to keep her job.