I always enjoy the letters to the editor section of the Mercury. Most of the letters make solid points. But in many cases the material presented is not factual and not substantiated by data. Congratulations to Usha Reddi, Karen McCulloh and Rich Jankovich in winning City Commission seats.
Turley Hayes and Ed Horne, to whom this note is directed, are of course elated that the liberals have gained at least two commission seats. But a review of the issues at hand reveals that the only person who comes close to being awarded the moniker of moderate is Commissioner Jankovich.
A quick look at the history of the Manhattan city debt would indicate just how successful John Matta and I have been in dominating the city and/or its people. When elected in 2011, both commissioners wanted to reduce city debt and spending. What was the result? In 2011, the mill levy was 41.917 and city debt was $225 million. Two years later the mill levy is 43.439 and city debt is $270 million. A conservative or extreme right-wing commission was never elected. The 2013 budget increases and higher city debt were the product of a 3-2 vote with City Commissioners Jankovich, Jim Sherow and Loren Pepperd and in the majority. The other two dominated nothing and barely were able to restrain the growth of the budget. Before anyone starts mentioning words like degrading, check the hall mirror.
Mr. Hayes makes the false and unsubstantiated statement that “social services would have been wiped out” by the two serving commissioners. Check the record. Social services were reduced by 5 percent last year. Long-term suggestions for social services involved elimination of some agencies like UFM that are not in the same category as the Emergency Shelter, and focusing on five or six agencies that provide the best service to the city and enhanced efforts to gain donations (city water bill SSAB effort). The “curmudgeons” do donate, but do you?
A couple of the newly elected commissioners billed themselves as fiscal conservatives. I hope that pans out to be the case. With a little effort, the half-cent sales tax can actually be used to drive down the city debt. Some true conservative and moderate management can drive the debt down at least $1 million a year without compromising on essential projects. The city has a $326 million debt limit. We are at $270 million. I hope the newly elected commission works to avert achieving the $326 million milestone. A manageable debt should not be defined as being slightly under the credit card limit.
Do we really have a moderate commission or fiscal conservative commission, Mr. Horne? We will not really know until the 2014 budget is passed. We hope you are correct, but fear that you are not.
Wynn Butler is a member of the Manhattan City Commission.