How do we get out of this mess?

Here we are at the 11th hour in Marshalltown’s budgeting process for the fiscal year to begin in July.

City Administrator Jessica Kinser has given her response to statements and questions about the change in E911 taxation and expenditure. She discusses items that are important: Planning for large debt service for the new police and fire building, careful control of other funds, while using the Local Option Sales Taxes, and finally maintaining property tax levies at a similar level as the two previous years.

I might give her praise — IF she and other city officials had simply taken the $582,000 that previously was levied for the E911 costs and intentionally placed those potential funds as “unavailable” in the “assumptions” for the budgeting. This is THE critical issue.

This omission is a clear showing that the city truly did identify this tax levy as I have termed — FOUND money!!

Had this been set aside as unavailable, the city budgeting process would have been done truthfully. We would have shown exactly how our expenses (regardless of funds) truly did exceed our income.

Ms. Kinser’s contention that they are taxing at the legal maximum is legal, but not right. As I asked the council on Monday evening, MAKE THIS RIGHT.

Now, how do we get out of this mess?

I ask that our six city council members assert themselves as the final decision makers in our city. All city employees ultimately are responsible to the council. That certainly includes the city administrator. She should be instructed to place that previously levied amount of dollars that the city contributed to E911 pay and benefits onto the “unavailable,” “assumptions” and have all budgeting worksheets reworked to show this lower taxation.

Then, carefully review our expenditures again, with a view to perhaps being more frugal. If at that time, the income side is inadequate, then a truthful open public discussion should be held, with real alternatives shown.

At that point, carefully review the use of the Local Option Sales Tax council designated funds.

By the time all of this is done, it will be clear to taxpayers that you have done your work and have had to make hard decisions.

The new E911 commission levy recipients will thank you for your transparency. Otherwise, they will receive complaints about the new added tax levy, since they are the innocent organization in these concerns.

I will also thank you!