By Alex Saitta
July 24, 2017
I read the story and watched the joint press conference between the county council and the Liberty council concerning the take-over of Liberty Fire. It was a back patting, congratulating themselves type of press conference. And I wondered why.
The city of Liberty was spending more money than it was bringing in for years, resorting to a financial shell game to “balance” the budget each year that ultimately caught up to them. They deserve an “F” for financial management, going back for about 10 years.
The county government then came in and bailed out the city by taking over city fire responsibilities and tacking on a higher fire fee to city and county residents in Liberty.
Last year the city residents paid the county government 61 mills in property taxes, 80 mills were also paid to the city government and they received fire protection as part of that. Next year city residents will pay the 61 and 80 mills plus a new $120 fire fee on top of that.
Then the county residents in Liberty (who have nothing to do with the financial woes in the city of Liberty), their fire fee will rise from $106 to $120.
I see how this is a win for the city leaders, as this helps plug their financial gap. It’s a win for the county leaders who grow their fire revenue. But a lose-lose for the city and rural residents of Liberty who are paying for it all and are being forced to bail out the mis-management of budgets in the city of Liberty.
The county and city residents are not stupid. We can do the math, and see what is going on here, despite the glowing press conference.
And on top of all of that, the city of Liberty is raising water and sewer fees by 14% and 18% respectively.
It doesn’t take any talent to raise taxes/ fees, spend the money and then say look at what we did for you. I was so shocked how they went out publicly and touted this as a smashing success when the public is paying the entire bill.
This is like what the state legislature is saying. Road revenue is the highest it has been in years, we have mis-managed those funds so badly are roads are crumbling, now we have to nearly double the gas tax to fix the roads – look at how smart we are.
It would have been impressive if the city/ county councils had solved the problem without raising fees/ taxes, but instead better managed the money they are already receiving by setting priorities, reforming how they deliver services and eliminating waste.