John Engen, I hardly know you

While leaders all around the world are investing in their own communities, our Mayor John Engen is busy cutting back. That’s right – at a time when local businesses are hurting, when unemployment is rising, and when our city keeps on growing, we’re spending 3.7% less.

What Engen is doing is shifting the costs more directly onto you. That’s right. When your car has to go into the shop for repairs because you hit one too many potholes, Mayor Engen has shifted the cost from his budget to yours. And when you stumble on one of the poorly lit sidewalk curbs, you can be sure the City’s saving dollars while you’re paying the hospital bill for a twisted ankle. Likewise when the aging water pipes burst, it will be your basement that will flood while we postpone the inevitable cost of fixing the decrepit infrastructure. And when yet another cyclist or pedestrian gets killed because we’re still waiting for the roundabout at Arthur/Mount/Beckwith or waiting for the road at Russell / South 3rd to be completed, it could well be because Public Works was understaffed and overworked. You get the picture. That 3 minute delay from the Police Department or Fire Department might mean the difference between protecting your life and property, but we couldn’t afford to be fully staffed could we? But, hey, the City’s saving money – that’s the main thing!

I think my Mom would have said, “Penny wise, Pound foolish.” Every year we put off the repairs to our aging infrastructure, the more it is going to cost. Every time we save a little right now, the more risk we take of catastrophic failure down the road. If you fail to pay for the flu shot, don’t be surprised when you have to stay home from work when you get sick. (And, yes, the City-County Health Department also had its budget cut!)

Maybe it’s a question of what the money is being spent on. The recent Greater Downtown Master Plan cost some $450,000 and public funds paid for roughly 75 percent. I shudder to think how much was put into the old Fox Theater site, which the City purchased in 1984 but I’m still waiting to see if we’ll get anything more than a patently ugly parking lot. And I know we’re still paying for the promised features of the Ogren-Allegiance Baseball Park. Not that these aren’t worthy projects, they are. They’re investments in our future, hopefully to pay off dividends in our quality of life year after year after year.

Now is the time to be laying the foundation for the future, and now is the time that we need the work, the jobs, the business for our local contractors. Mayor Engen, show some real leadership and make some bold investments in our community right now. Don’t be timid, as I know you aren’t. Don’t be nickel and diming us. Step out, be bold. Give us something to rally around. Because we need you now.

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One Response

  1. city charter does not allow deficit spending. obama and congress are under no such limitation. same goes for state government. i am sure that john is looking into everything available for us grant wise but taxpayers who face a depression can’t really be expected to fund any visionary make work jobs. tiny house 1200sf is currently over $ 2000.00 per year for property taxes alone. john is just facing the same reality we all are. we are all in this together, Binky. i don’t know what else to tell you. it’s going to be rough.

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