Financial Responsibility and Leadership
The citizens of Clarksville..deserve a long-term financial strategic plan
Financial responsibility and opportunity are directly linked to the quality of the strategic planning process. If strategic planning is poor, the associated long-term financial planning will be poor. The citizens of Clarksville desire and deserve a long-term financial strategic plan for Clarksville. Presently, it seems as if concerns raised over current budgetary decisions, and their impact on future years, are often brushed aside as irrelevant or impeding the process. These concerns and questions should be welcomed as additional input for solid financial management.
Clarksville has seen a recent budget touted as “balanced” when some city council members pointed out near-term economic uncertainties and impacts on future years within the proposed budget. With input from citizens and a great deal of research and analysis, I had developed a reduction list of at least $2 million. If economic conditions improved during the year, needed spending could be adjusted upward later. The goal was to avoid borrowing $2.7 million. However, the budget was passed and touted as balanced, even if money was borrowed to balance it. That’s not a “balanced” budget in my book.
I had developed a reduction list of at least $2 million
By spring the administration reduced this budget by almost $2.3 million. The budget reduction was not directed to be spread across city departments or taken from non-essential city programs. As directed, the police department provided a list of potential reductions while other departments’ provided considerably fewer offerings. Therefore, the police department would take the brunt of the budget reductions. I, and other council members, saw the reductions as directly affecting public safety.
…borrowed money was retained to provide…fund balances for the city
With the police department taking the brunt of the budget reductions and with a sizable percentage of the borrowed money directed to buy the police equipment now deleted, it would have been financially prudent to return the unspent borrowed money. However, that didn’t happen and no explanation was given to the council as to why the city simply “sandbagged” the borrowed money. In the following budget years it was clear that borrowed money was retained to provide the required fund balances for the city.
If the “politically correct” statement is made that the city has not raised your taxes and has balanced budgets, this simply isn’t correct. Borrowing money to “balance” a budget was how it was done.
Under a Summers’ administration, budgets will be constructed while looking at the upcoming year AND based upon the needs and impact of those spending decisions upon the following years. If more spending caution is needed in the initial phases of a city budget, then that will be accomplished. If economic conditions are better than anticipated, then we can look to address additional needs.
…the city will solicit a wide array of quality vendors to compete for the tax dollar YOU provide
I will notify and seek approval of the full council for major projects or contracts that were not listed as part of the approved budget and provide rationale. Also, as part of any long-range plan, vision or associated project for Clarksville or its employees, the full council and public will hear about it “up front” and its associated costs will be clearly outlined. Under my administration, the taxpayer will know that the city will solicit a wide array of quality vendors to compete for the tax dollar YOU provide to operate the city.
With long-term strategic planning comes the ability to see economic opportunity. Thus, planning and budgetary development will be linked.