One of the agenda items during last week’s city council meeting was impact fees. Most folks that spoke were in favor of impact fees and there were some good points raised on both sides of the issue.
What I found puzzling was the fact that the City can on the one hand talk about the importance of keeping impact fees and then on the other hand continue to spend money on outside consultants.
As you recall in my post on this blog after the Sept, 22, 2009 council meeting I stated the City had spent over $3.3 million of your tax dollars on various fees paid to outside firms for consulting, feasibility studies, and work projects from Oct 2008 to Sept 2009.
Examples of those were as follows:
1) $63,109.52 was paid to McCord Engineering, Inc (an outside consulting firm) for the Mayor’s Utility Task Force as it related to the electric rate issues surrounding the current utility contract with AEP.
(2) $69, 448.47 was paid to Elim Group (an outside consulting firm) to speak at the Council, WMUB/Staff Retreat that was conducted at the Weatherford Library, June 12, 2009.
(3) $11,000.00 was paid out to Raymond Turco and Associates (an outside firm)for a City Wide Citizen Attitudinal Survey.
(4) $17, 030.00 was paid out for a feasibility study for the Brazos Valley Exchange for the purpose of analyzing the impact of an Equine Convention Center in Weatherford.
(5) $13,030.58 was paid for downtown railing improvements associated with the remodeling that was done on our City Square.
Now lets go to the FY2010 Accounts Payable check history report posted on the City’s Website under the financial transparency link. You will notice quite a bit of questionable spending is still going on.
Most notably: Checks to RW Beck an outside consulting firm hired to perform a cost of service/rate design study for utilities and solid waste.
(1) RW BECK INC 10/09/2009 $38,580.13.
(2)RW BECK INC 11/06/2009 $11,138.00
(3)RW BECK INC 12/31/2009 $5,242.55
(4)RW BECK INC 1/22/2010 $4,278.50
(5)RW BECK INC 02/19/2010 $652.00
Total for RW BECK INC $59, 891.18
So basically the City elected to spend $59, 891.18 of your tax dollars now in a time when the economy is in decline and the City is $20 million in debt for the purpose of being told the following: (1) the City needs to increase water and waste water rates on residential and commercial customers in the City of Weatherford over the next seven years; (2) The City needs to issue $5 million in debt to start a maintenance fund for water and waste water in 2011 and issue another $ 5 million in debt in 2014 for the same premise; and Collect a flat monthly fee to establish a Benbrook pumping fund. These recommendations were approved by the Utility board members: Mayor Dennis Hooks, Councilman Craig Swancy, Board Member Heidi Wilder, Board Member Ken Davis, and Board Member T.K Helm.
How does this impact Weatherford tax payers? You get to dig a little deeper into your household budgets to pay for the increase in water and wastewater rates on your utility bill. Not to mention the strong possibility of a tax increase in the near future to pay for the current $20 million and the additional $10 million in debt being issued in $5 million dollar increments beginning in 2011.
Now that I have digressed lets look at the FY2010 Accounts payable check report again and see if we can spot any other unneccessary expenditures.
Found one….. CAMP DRESSER & MCKEE INC 11/13/2009 $21,059.00 an engineering and consulting firm.
(1) CONVENTIONS, SPORTS & LEISURE 10/16/2009 $25,030.00
(2) CONVENTIONS, SPORTS & LEISURE 12/18/2009 $17,940.00
This was for the feasibility study done on the possibility of building a Equine Center East of town on the Fort Worth Hwy. It was later discovered that the site picked for the Equine Center was contaminated due to the fact that it had once been the location of a Poultry Farm. Having an Equine Center in Weatherford would be a splendid idea but, spending $42, 970.00 in FY 2010 and $17, 030.00 in FY 2009 just to find out if it would be practical at a time when the City is $20 million in debt and city employees are on furlough makes it a not so good idea.
Bottom line here folks, it is not rocket science to understand that you cannot spend more money than you make. So why does the City Continue to spend money it doesn’t have? Answer: Because there is no accountability at City Hall. Accountability starts at the City Council level and can only exist if there is a clear majority that supports it. How do you fix this? You purge the council and get some new people in there that support fiscally conservative principles.
Thank you Mr. Matthews for making all this information available for public viewing. If you find the actions of City Council troubling, speak up! You cannot make a difference by remaining silent!