Yesterday I received a mysterious, anonymous letter from an employee of Columbia-Boone County Joint Communications. In the letter the author claims that there are more problems with Joint Communications than money can fix, not even a $20,000,000 lump sum and $9,300,000 every year after, until the end of time.
This is not the first time I’ve heard claims from city employees that whistle-blowers face retribution from city staff and it’s not the first time I’ve heard this from employees of Joint Communication and 911 Emergency Management.
The author cites the need for, “an internal investigation of funds and also of personnel,” due to employees abusing sick leave and sleeping while on duty — insinuating that the meager funds allocated to the department are being mishandled.
Before voters approve an egregious tax increase, or any tax increase at all for 911/Joint Comm, it looks to me like the departments need to be cleaned up. If we can’t trust the leaders of Joint Communications to work efficiently and ethically with their current jalopy budget, how can we trust them once they are on the Proposition 1 Cadillac Plan?
I realize that an anonymous letter might seem a bit “fishy” to some folks, but I assure you that I don’t have the time to manufacture such a ruse. My lovely wife, who is far less outspoken than me, retrieved the mail and watched me open it late last night after I returned home from the KCF/MoCLA candidate forum. Of course, I could have mailed a letter to myself, but did not. Although exhausted from a long day that found me eating dinner at 10PM, I was up late, tickled by the thought of receiving an anonymous letter dripping with bureaucratic political intrigue.
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Download printable press release HERE
There is little doubt that the Boone County Emergency Management and Joint Communications 911 system faces serious operational challenges and difficulties. Something should be done to address its problems, but a tax hike to fund an exorbitant, unaccountable budget is not the correct approach.
Taxes are already high and this proposed tax increase will push the sales tax rate in many local stores to over 8 percent. A tax increase on basic goods is ill-conceived, especially when many families are struggling to survive in a troubled economy.
In fact, we citizens are already paying enough to fund these emergency operations, but decades of financial mismanagement at the hands of elected officials and government bureaucrats have squandered these funds. Our elected officials have neglected these fundamental emergency services in favor of other more glamorous and less needed budgetary objectives aimed at making headlines rather than providing safety. The proposed tax hike is nothing more than a bailout from the taxpayer for these elected leaders who have misspent our hard-earned tax dollars.
The proposed 911 budget stands as an excessive increase that will more than triple the current annual budget, moving it from $2.7 million to $8.7 million, and concentrate $20 million in the hands of just three county commissioners in the first year alone. These professional politicians, each with an annual salary in excess of $80,000, rule by consensus. No guarantees and few details have been released about the planned $11.3 million building or how the remainder of the $20 million lump sum and the $8.7 million annual budget will be spent. It is wrongheaded to take these extra funds from the citizens and pay them to the county government where there is limited representation, no firm plans for the new multi-million dollar building, no accountability, and no guarantee that our current crop of elected officials and appointed bureaucrats will be better stewards of these funds than those of the past.
We demand that politicians find a way to adequately fund and manage our 911 services without further burdening the hardworking taxpayers of Boone County. We demand that our elected officials examine their spending priorities and work within their existing means.
Please VOTE “NO” on Proposition #1 (the 911 tax) on April 2nd.
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