The taxpayers of Clarksville deserve and require a long-term financial plan, not one that focuses on only getting through the next 12 months.
City financial planning requires the same diligence as strategic planning. The city currently has no realistic near or long term planning goals in place. Therefore, it is no surprise that financial planning is equally deficient. This planning also requires that the full council participate and know the timing, costs, and funding source of any project and expenditure.
During the 2013 and 2014, as a council member, I strongly argued during those budget sessions that the true financial impact of proposed spending by Mrs. McMillan would not be seen until 12-24 months later. Based on that proposed spending, historical property and sales tax revenue growth analysis revealed that the city would face a revenue shortfall by 2015.
Mrs. McMillan’s response was her focus was strictly on the upcoming yearly budget only. She continually brushed aside concerns that the city would face a major funding issue in the near future, if we did not adjust spending and financial operations.
During Mrs. McMillan’s 2014 re-election campaign, she continually assured citizens that the city finances were strong. She continued to tout the city’s financial well-being through the November election day.
How could the McMillan administration declare city finances were strong, then six months later, after re-election, announce an 18-cent property tax hike?
Suddenly, on May 18, 2015, Mrs. McMillan announced a need for an 18-cent property tax increase. She stated that if this increase were not approved, an even larger increase would be needed the following year. Excuses and rationale for the increase are given, but the plain fact is the spending decisions of her previous budgets were in full effect and there was not enough money to cover them. She ignored the financial data I, and others, provided that clearly stated the city would have a financial problem. The city council cut the budget, but increased property tax by 6-cents. Even this increase could have been avoided.
In 2016, after threatening an even larger tax increase the year before, Mrs. McMillan wanted another 5-cent property tax increase. The city council disapproved the increase and made cuts.
Clarksville cannot continue to operate under such shortsighted financial planning and expect the taxpayer to make up the difference. Changes to money management, budget planning, and spending are needed. In the coming weeks, I will present new and specific proposals that will enable Clarksville to better plan and use its finite financial resources.
In the coming weeks, I will present new financial and budgetary proposals that will help the taxpayer, address the needs of the community and make a better Clarksville.