Wednesday, April 24, 2013

ZAP! #116: Cheap Proposition

ZAP! #116

     After spending three hours reading without moving his lips, Dylan, the executive editor and part-time wordsmith for the CCR, has compiled his recommendations for what voters should do with the twenty-five (25) charter amendments that will appear on the May 11th city election ballot.  And his recommendations have nothing to do with biting council members on the ankle...which might be appropriate.  

     Of course, the task of deciphering what each of the twenty-five items means was not an easy task for Dylan.  All the “Art. IX, Sec. 8 (a)” language and legalistic blathering had him spinning like a ‘meet and sniff‘ session at the city’s Animal Shelter.  And this begs the question.  Why so many charter changes now and are they all really necessary?  Okay, that was two questions.

     Without going into a great amount of detail, here is the simple answer as to how to vote without reading the two pages of detailed fine print replete with lawyer lingo.  Vote YES for every item except #11 and #25.  Vote NO or against these two items (#11 and #25).  

     Basically, most of the propositions clean up language in the city’s charter, provide the legal framework for the city to operate without conflicting provisions and finally, adds (Proposition #22) for Initiative and Referendum to be provided for citizens.  Tax payers will now have an opportunity, hopefully, to ensure that council members are responsive to future issues or requests of major concern to citizens.  Wouldn’t this be a rather nice change?

     The NO vote propositions deal with: 1) Proposition #11 -- this change updates the compensation for the mayor and members of the city council.  The proposition would make the mayor’s monthly stipend $1,200 and a city council member would receive $900 per month.  (Note: This figure does not included their travel budgets, or banquet ticket cost, or other expenses where they are reimbursed.)   Considering the disastrous financial black holes the council has cast the citizens into the past few years (McDougalville, Entertainment Center, increased water and sewer fees, out of control consultant cost and the siphoning of funds to special interest groups), this deserves rewarding them with a higher salary?  Should citizens really be paying more for the level of accountability and political sniping that has engrossed this group?; 2) Proposition #25 would increase the amount that the city contributes to the employee retirement fund from 15.75% to 16.75%.  While this may seem like a minor change, there has been little or no real discussion as to the need to do this.  Likewise, what will be the total annual and actuarial cost considering the number of employees currently retired or employed by the city?  What will this change do to the overall long term cost of funding the city’s participation in the retirement fund program?  Is the employee retirement fund currently on solid financial ground without this increase?

     Remember, when you early vote, or go to the polls on May 11th to vote for or against a particular council member, be sure to go through the entire ballot AND charter amendments.  By addressing the necessary charter amendments now this could save the city from having to conduct a special election for these items down the road.

     Let us know if you have questions. (snicker)  We’ll be out in the back yard throwing the Frisbee for Dylan who did a superb job of analyzing the unanalyzable.   

…………………………..Mark Holbrook