Sandy “Fiscal” Ferencz

This year the city gave all full time employees a $700 bonus.  Full time is defined as a city employee who works at least 30 hours a week.

The Public Works Department uses men from a staffing agency to augment their full time employees.  These 5 mean are employed by the staffing agency and not the city of IOP.

Ms. Ferencz wanted to give each of them $700 as well.

The IOP Observer is not taking sides on this issue, rather just reporting what it has heard as you can be sure this won’t be in any minutes…if and when they ever get published.

Just What is Morgan Creek Grill?

Is it a restaurant?  Is it a bar?  Is it a live music venue?  Is it all three?

What does its lease with the city say it is?

Below are some pics of the new bandstand completed several months ago.

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The bandstand is basically a plywood box with some insulation on the inside.  Now, I am not a contractor, but for the life of me I can’t see how this cost $20k!  But that is none of my business.

It appears to have mitigated the noise which is great.  My question is this:  Does MCG’s lease with the city include provisions for running an outdoor live entertainment venue?  I mean, this is not really part of the business of running a restaurant.

I applaud MCG for being an aggressive business, that is what this country is all about.  They clearly did this to make more money.  I’m all for it.  But if this is not in the original contract with the city, that contract needs to be modified so that the city is getting an appropriate piece of the pie.

People who have never seen these contracts will say, “Well, as the leasee makes more money, the city gets percentage, so the city makes more money, too.”

Technically this is true.  But from the time I was on city council 4 years ago, I can tell you the city gets a pittance of the increased revenue.  If you don’t believe me, go to City Hall and ask to see the contract.  You have a right to see it and they will give you a copy.

You will be shocked.

There is nothing more lucrative than government contracting…at any level of government.

Explain This “Fiscal Conservative” Thing to Me Again

As we move into campaign mode over the next few months in anticipation of the city election in November, we are going to hear the accomplishments of the “Fiscal Conservatives” who are running for re-election.

So, I spent the weekend pouring over the old city budgets.  They are all available online at www.iop.net under the City Services tab.

A bit of background before getting to the numbers.  The fiscal year for the city runs July 1 to June 30.  So, city council started working on Fiscal Year 2015-16 in January of this year. In the interest of clarity, I am going to call the current budget we are operating under Fiscal Year 2016, but realize that it started several weeks ago on July 1, 2015.

What follows is total city expenditures budgeted by city council for each fiscal year.  That is, this is what city council planned to spend.   Spending could, in fact, be more or less because of all kinds of circumstances, but what these numbers represent is the fiscal intent of city council.

Here are the numbers in dollar amounts:

2009                                    8,066,663

2010                                    8,067,982

2011                                    8,347,497

2012                                    8,511,235

2013                                    8,472,581

2014                                    8,914,839

2015                                    9,529,908

2016                                   10,331,061

From 2009 to 2012 the budget grew by $444,572, or 5.51%.

This is pretty much right in line with inflation, maybe even a bit less, depending on whether you are using the CPI (Consumer Price Index) or the Federal Reserve’s preferred PCE (Personal Consumption Expenditure) which is usually lower than the CPI.

From 2013 to 2016 the budget grew by $1,858,480 or 21.9%

Whoa!  What happened to the budget in 2013?  The citizens elected two new members to city council, Jimmy Carroll and Jimmy Ward when they defeated the incumbents Brian Duffy and Ralph Piening in the November 2011 election.  Jimmy Ward, in particular, campaigned incessantly as a “fiscal conservative.”  Carroll and Ward joined Ryan Buckhannon and Mike Loftus who also call themselves “fiscal conservatives.”  Upon joining city council in January 2012 they began work on the 2013 budget.

Then, for budget year 2015, the city added two more new city councilmembers in Patrick Harrington and Sandy Ferencz who replaced Sandy Stone and Doug Thomas when the latter two decided not to seek re-election in November 2013.  Lo and behold the budget for 2015, for which work began in January 2014 got even worse.  This budget cycle now had 5 “fiscal conservatives” on city council, a majority! They could have worked together and controlled the spending, but instead the spending ramped even higher!

Here’s the point: the city is not growing and there have been no disasters but the budget is exploding. Maybe the “fiscal conservatives” could tell us just what fiscally conservative measures they have taken and what “fiscal conservative” means to them.

I am not sure the city can afford much more “fiscal conservatism”.

Let’s Light This Candle! *

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Having figured out how to get someone else to pay for new lights in the business district, Jimmy Ward now wants to pollute Forest Trail with light all night.  Is this really what people who live on Forest Trail want?  Is there a lot of crime going on back there?  I kinda doubt it.  So what is the purpose?

Oh, by the way, don’t forget about paying for all the extra electricity.  Bad for the taxpayer and bad for the environment.  Let’s just deep 6 this idea right now.

* Quote is attributed to Alan Shepard, commander of Mercury Freedom 7 as it was on the launchpad at Cape Canaveral, May 6, 1961.

Should We Really Move Public Works 10 Miles off the Island?

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Jimmy Ward would like the IOP to spend over 1 million dollars to move the Dept of Public Works off the island.

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Jimmy says the building is unsightly, smelly and the land will need some environmental mitigation to ensure it is not contaminating Hamlin Creek.

Look at the above connector pictures.  I bet you, like me, have never even noticed the building as you came over the bridge, except at Christmas when there is a light bulb Santa on it.  The fact is the building is not visible until you are almost off the bridge, and then only for a split second.

Here is what Jimmy is not telling you in his Facebook post.  He has said that Long Point Road would be a good location.  Not only would this be terribly inconvenient, it would be terribly expensive.  The city has already conducted a preliminary evaluation of keeping the department where it is and doing environmental remediation.

Sit down before you read this.  Estimated expense to fix up the current site is $284,000.  Estimated expense to move the site to Long Point road is $1,116,000.

The numbers come from a March 4 memo written by Douglas Kerr, Director of Building and Planning.

Finally, not only is this a nutty idea, but, because 1 councilmember thought it a good one, hours and hours of staff time were burned up to satisfy this quixotic idea.

Mr. Ward, you are free to keep the ideas coming, but please quit calling yourself a “fiscal conservative.”

Fiscal Conservatism?

Screen Shot 2015-03-11 at 5.07.01 PM The above Facebook posting is a pristine example of “fiscal conservatism.”  You run for office preaching about out of control spending and how you are going to save the IOP from the self immolation of “spending money we don’t got.”  Then, once elected, you find out how to spend someone else’s hard earned money!  Oh yeah, also make sure to pat yourself on the back while you are at it. This is NOT a post about the lights.  They may or may not be a good idea.  But it seems to this editor that if you are a fiscal conservative and want the lights, you ought to figure out a way to pay for them yourself.  But no, our elected councilmembers go “Washington” on us and come up with a way for some other poor taxpayer to fund the project. Finally, here is the real kicker:  Look at Draft 1 of the city’s budget for July 1, 2015 through June 30, 2016.  On page 24, line 138 under a section dealing with expenditures of Municipal Accommodation Taxes, the city has projected an increase of $35,000 to the budget to pay for electricity for the new lights. Maybe, just maybe, these new lights are not exactly low cost!