Speak Out 4/19/15
I'd like to make a few comments about the meeting held to discuss the future of the BRC held on Wednesday night, April 8th. I listened to what everyone had to say and I felt like there were some good suggestions given to the City council. One thing that kept popping up in my mind was that it speaks poorly of our leadership when they continued to insist that THEY held the meeting to hear ideas for solving the financial shortfalls from US, not negative comments or criticism of the job they're doing. On the surface this seems like a fair and honest approach. I think everyone appreciates when our elected officials genuinely want to hear ideas from constituents. The reason I feel this approach speaks poorly of our leadership is because I only heard one councilman offer a single solution and he admitted that it was not his idea, but one that was suggested to him. My impression was that they have no answers, besides closing it down and building the new city hall in that structure. Many people showed up to voice concerns and for the most part, I got the impression that our Mayor really wasn't listening all that much. There were numbers that were given by our City manager that made it look like the BRC was nothing more than a money pit. As most of us know, when any government official provides numbers to prove a point, you'd better take a closer look at them. I appreciate the DAR doing the homework and offering numbers that contradict the picture the city is trying to paint. I've heard many times the saying that "Figures lie and liars figure." The truth is, you can take any budget and if you neglect to include enough about income and then calculate every cost you can find, you will undoubtedly paint a bleak picture. Businesses strive to do this very thing when it comes time to calculate how much money they owe Uncle Sam around tax time. I understand that making it more profitable is a good idea. There are no "free lunches", but there are people paying taxes everyday to help pay for it. The problem is, the city doesn't want to calculate that into the equation. That brings me to a question: Why is our City Council trying to make the BRC look as bad as possible? I can't help but wonder: If the City retains the building but repurposes it, what happens to the tax money that they currently receive to pay the building off? In my years of observing how any government works, I've yet to see one simply discontinue a tax. In my experience, they like to keep it going and then simply put it back into the general revenue. I could be wrong, but that seems a likely motive.
Sevice is profit
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[email] The Thursday article in the DAR "How much is the Coliseum losing?" has caused me to think about all of our city government in terms of profit and loss. How much is the Library losing per year? How much is the Police Department and Fire Department losing each year? How much profit in dollars and cents is being returned to the people of Poplar Bluff from administration at city hall? The answer is zero. Are we shutting down those operations?
We do have some departments that are returning dollars. The ones identified by the city's credit rating agency; Coliseum, utilities, airport and golf course are at least returning some dollars. Yet because they aren't self supporting they are under scrutiny.
Doesn't the city spend ALL the money they collect in taxes? Millions of dollars every year. By their definition, all of it a "loss."
Why are we focusing on the few services to the public that the city provides that are subsidized by the user? Why haven't we heard that the Library is being closed down because it hasn't turned a profit? Are we going to shut down the Municipal Court or just operate it on weekends until it turns a profit? Why don't we get credit card scanners for the police so they can take payment when they answer a call?
The only profit the public gets from the city is service. That's what we expect.
and talk less
I went to the city council meeting the other night that they had it at the coliseum to try to brainstorm the future of the coliseum and I must say that many of our so-called citizens don't care what somebody said they still hear what they want to hear and do what they want to do.
The first thing they told us right off the bat was the financial situation, and it is bleak, for the coliseum, but they said we do not want to close it. Over and over a city official or the manager repeated, we do not want to close it. We want to come up with creative ideas from the community on how to better utilize it and how to save it. How to save it was the input I got from the city council; however, many of the people in attendance were obviously listening to the voices in their head. One after another after another got up and told us they'd been in Butler County since the dawning of time and this is what the only thing that they have to look forward to is to come to the coliseum and you better not do anything to the pool and that's great. But, here's the thing! They didn't say they were going to do anything to the pool. They said they were looking for ways to keep it all going. All people could do was to tell you how great it is in their life. They couldn't tell you one thing. There's was only like three people out of all the people that spoke that told an idea to make it more viable for the future.
People need to listen more and talk less. If you're sitting around bad-mouthing the city council, the mayor and the city manager, figure out a solution since you seem to have all the answers. Thank you.