Letters to the Editor

Buckley’s financial mess began five years ago; troubles are continuing

Buckley’s financial mess began five years ago; troubles are continuing

Re: “When budget is tight, where do you look” by Council Member Randy Reed (Sept. 1).

Buckley Council Member Randy Reed’s commentary somehow seemed to miss whatever point he was trying to present. But having witnessed firsthand the making of the budget last year, the events leading up to approval including the mayor’s whining and the feeding frenzy by some staff members after approval, whatever he is trying to say falls on deaf ears.

The whole mess started five years ago when the present mayor signed on. The surge to give raises to employees that were unsustainable and in some cases unjustified, was the first act on the road to being in trouble.

But I’ll ask a few questions:

1) Why was the fire department included in this discussion? Just how would you lay off a volunteer as a revenue-saving step?

2) Last year the city’s highly qualified planner was the first casualty of the budget roulette practiced by this administration. Has there been any cost benefit from that move? The issue should be, is the city better off this year than last or should the council be calling the people who took that action and those who approved it on the carpet?

3) The comment that Orting’ law enforcement’s perceived needs take 43 percent of that city’s general fund revenue. This has nothing to do with other cities, but that’s probably why we are in the shape we are – comparison shopping! In case the councilman doesn’t know, law enforcement in Buckley uses in the mid-50s of general fund revenues. Is that a realistic number?

4) Why does the city pay comp time to their exempt employees? In the real world you hire to do a job, if unable to do it in the time allotted you either put in the extra time on your own or find another job. This has become a way of paying year-end bonuses, as one former council member stated. I would note there is negligible oversight of this action.

5) Why hasn’t there been a discussion of selling the city’s natural gas utility? There would be an immediate $1 million savings to ratepayers. Would the reason be that the city extracts a 10 percent utility tax (as the city does from all unregulated utilities) and doesn’t want to give up that revenue. Apparently there is no regard for the fact that citizens would get better service, weatherization packages would be easily available, and other utility costs could also be lowered. Beyond that, are the rate increases on all utilities so readily approved by the council necessary or is the 10 percent utility tax the driving force?

6) Why are citizens using the words “corrupt” and “incompetent” when describing this administration? Does it have anything to do with certain services being available to council members that are unavailable to the general public? Does it have to do with the general deterioration in offered services? I for one am getting irked at listening to a councilwoman heap false praise on the performance of the mayor and city administrator.

I won’t ask any more questions but that does not mean there are not more significant issues that are NOT being properly addressed.

Buckley citizens have watched a steady erosion of service quality in the reign of this city administrator, which has accelerated with the election of our present mayor. I had high hopes for the mayor but quit making inputs when I realized that most inputs were being ignored. To recognize how petty this administration can be, there was a call for donations for hanging baskets for the city; the city’s utility flyer just showed most of those who donated to that cause. Thirty-nine names but there were 40 donators; guess whose name was not included! Don’t give a critic publicity.

While I applaud Councilman Reed for his “no” votes on the last two budgets and agree with his reasons, for some reason he appears to have lost his way. I suggest that he read RCW 35A.l1.020 and refresh his memory regarding what he is actually supposed to be doing as a councilmember. As I stated last year during the council campaigns, the city has plenty of income, they just have a spending problem.

The mayor is handling a majority of this council like they have a ring in their nose. That’s not how state law says it should be and some, including Councilman Reed, need to wake up to that fact. There has been a proposal on the table for nearly a year to rectify that situation; it sits in Councilman Reed’s committee with no action. Why?

All meetings have to be public, more citizens should attend some. Committee meetings are more informative than council meetings. It’s also a good time to find how little some of the council members put into their position. Talking a lot does not necessarily equate to knowing a lot or council production, but contributing nothing is a good sign they are not on board except to protect their own selfish interests.

Marvin Sundstrom

Buckley

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