Ross Perot once said, “The budget should be balanced, the treasury should be refilled, the public debt should be reduced and the arrogance of public officials should be controlled.” On the surface, the Midway revenue appears to balance with the expenditures. But in my opinion, the expenditures have been inflated to equal the revenue.
In 2013, the unaudited revenue was $1,949,002 with unaudited expenditures of $1,816,923. That’s a surplus of $132,079. I do not see a tax reduction for the residents to offset the surplus. The city could give back by reducing the utilities franchise tax by $195 per household.
The revenue from trash collection is budgeted at $98,000, but the actual cost for the collection is budgeted at $87,000. Did the city reduce the charges to its citizens? Of course not. This is an overcharge of more than $17 per household. The problem with politicians is that they easily can take our cash but never give anything back. They always find ways to spend our money.
The highest-paid employee is the city clerk at $52,888, and this doesn’t count benefits. She is paid more than the city clerk of Marietta, which is 30 times larger than Midway and 10 times larger than Pooler. This person is overpaid. If we review her duties, one prime responsibility is to submit all ordinances to municipal code for codification, and publish the code of ordinances for the city. The last time any ordinances were documented and published was 1989.
The citizens of Midway don’t know what the laws are in the city. Does your garage sale or lemonade stand violate the law? Who knows? We don’t. The clerk is supposed to provide copies of the official records to city officials and the general public when requested. But if you ask, be prepared for a hefty research charge. Documents are not organized or filed properly, and they are hard to locate.
I cannot see the justification of some expenditures, such as dues and fees, which are budgeted at $25,870 for 2014. That appears to be a waste of money. This is not much money, but it is our money. Why is it that politicians think they can waste our money?
With a city debt of more than $2 million, the city is paying $95,000 in interest. Further infrastructure improvements, such as the wastewater system and a new city hall, will place the city further in debt. Since Liberty County is collecting our property taxes, the city is not getting any of the property taxes for these projects, yet the city is doing nothing to recover our taxes from the county.
The city handles fire calls for the county and does not receive sufficient reimbursement. Hinesville charged the county $30,000 to do what Midway now does for only $12,000. The county does little for the city because the mayor is afraid to stand up to the county.
The city’s budget is not a piggy bank for the politicians to use. The piggy bank belongs to the residents and should be watched over carefully.
Calderone is a conservative who lives in Midway and has written for trade publications in various fields.