Here’s more from one of the Metro Government insiders sharing their anonymous (for readers, anyway) thoughts:
A Tax Increase? Seriously? When Fischer Cannot Even Demonstrate Control Over His Current Operating Funds?
We all know that Fischer wants to increase taxes. He gives his tax “initiative” a positive, benign-sounding name (with the word “TAX” only seen when the acronym is spelled out) and runs on about it pretty constantly. His problem, however, is that he cannot snap his fingers and make us pay. It gets voted on. He says his new tax will provide a slush fund, I mean a dedicated revenue stream, for his pet projects. No one is saying that a community – any community – is not a better place with more amenities for its citizenry. That’s a no brainer in terms of presenting ourselves as an attractive place for businesses and people alike. But what a lot of us are saying is Whoa, Bessie… what happened to being responsible for the money you have now? Before you ask for more?
Over-time comes up again and again and again in discussions of Fischer’s seeming inability to get his own backyard in shape before reaching out for our money. A given department – let’s say Public Works since it blows through OT like it’s our money and not theirs and what do they care (oh…..wait a minute……) sets a goal in LouieStat and then we assume strives to meet it. But they don’t meet that target, repeatedly, and Fischer seems not to want to tackle the harder issue of why one of his departments blows past a goal that they themselves set? And don’t forget that the goal is not “no overtime”. The goal is simply a reduction to the “Good Lord, what are they doing” level instead of the “Well, those zeroes must be a mistake” stratospheric level. The answer, of course, lies with the management of the individual departments in Public Works. You can be certain that there are many excuses provided, but real solutions such as restructuring shifts and re-allocating resources are painful and not popular with anyone. Roads and Operations has been doing business the same way for a very long time. The notion of change towards accountability seems to be anathema to the management of that department and Fischer does nothing, as evidenced by the continuing overrun shown on LouieStat. And he wants more money why???
The second area where Fischer seems lost is capital projects. They are spread out across Metro departments and each budget season the divisions compete amongst themselves to see who can get their projects funded. This isn’t just a waste of time and effort – it also runs contrary to efficiency and stewardship of public dollars. Capital dollars – and there are millions of them – are not captured in a single snapshot as a single outflow of dollars so the public can review them. Additionally, the Change Orders which accompany those projects (a change to the original dollar amount bid by the winning company) are not indicated anywhere for public review.
If Fischer wants more money to play with, and his insistence on a new tax indicates he does, he needs to clean up his own shop first, and see what kind of increase that provides in terms of discretionary funds. He can reach out, touch, and talk all he wants. That’s fine. But Louisville already has…. wait for it…. the FOURTH highest tax–rate in the nation. That’s right. FOURTH highest.
A mayor’s job is running the city government he was elected to oversee. And until Fischer does that well, and provides proof thereof, giving him more revenue through yet another tax is like sending another check to your college-aged kid in hopes he’ll get a part-time job.