From: Russell M. Poling Sr.
Recently I joined 12 other taxpayers to file an objection to our 2017 budget since we felt some information submitted during the Oct. 4 budget hearing was flawed.
There was the appearance that the tax rate was dropping, yet in actuality it was increasing. It was also reported that the total budget was less compared to 2016, when it actually appeared to be an increase over 2016.
Our goal was to bring to the attention of the administration and the city council that we felt the numbers were misleading the public and the council into thinking that the 2017 budget would be a decrease in total spending and that everyone’s tax rate was being reduced from this year.
I was interviewed by the media where I outlined what the group felt and what we were expecting. What I did not expect was the response from Mayor Jim Lienhoop. Instead of addressing our concerns or even telling us how we were wrong, he totally dismissed our petition without merit. His reasoning to dismiss was that we were a group of supporters of the former mayor.
I was saddened and disappointed in that response. To totally dismiss a citizen complaint just because they may have voted for his opponent is not setting a positive tone.
At the Oct. 18 city council meeting the administration addressed our objection in a very long statement that again disparaged those of us who had signed it and strayed far from the matter at hand several times. Lienhoop then went on to read a statement where he said that this petition was just one of many that his administration has had to deal with the last 10 months that were all from the former mayor or her supporters and that they were basically without merit and a drain on city resources.
I, and others, were offended by that statement. I can assure you that I have better things to do with my time than to spend it just to “inconvenience or harass” our current city government. I also felt that statement was disrespectful to all of us, whereas I have always treated our current administration and city council with respect and due deference. I may not always agree with them, but I do give them the respect they are due.
I became interested in our city government in 2011 and then started paying close attention in January 2014. Since then I have spoken up at several city council meetings, been appointed to three commissions and I ran for city council. I did these things because I deeply care about this community. I served honorably for 20 years in the U.S. Air Force. I know what it means to be committed to an honorable cause. My devotion to our city is no different.
Participating in our local government should not be restricted to the “in crowd.” No one party or individual has the right to say who can participate.