Tonight I spent a few hours attending a town hall meeting to hear our mayor discuss his city operating budget for 2010. In the ninety days since Mayor Dan Sullivan was sworn into office, he and his staff have actually created two budgets. They first had to fix a faulty 2009 budget left by the outgoing mayor and then create the budget for 2010.
Our liberal former mayor, Mark Begich, resigned as mayor to go to Washington D.C. as our new Democratic senator. One of Begich's last acts as mayor was to sign some contracts giving sweetheart deals to the city labor unions at a time when he should have been holding the line on expenses. There are some questions about whether the contracts are legal because Begich kept important information about the state of the city financial affairs from the Assembly, who approved the contracts. If the contracts prove to be legal, the city will be in a huge financial hole until the contracts come up again for renewal in five or six years.
Mayor Sullivan seems to be honest and sincere in his efforts to balance the city budget and keep our city out of bankruptcy. From the charts and figures shown at the town hall meeting, we have to cut spending now to even survive. Our city government will be back-to-basics with the bulk of the budget paying for police, fire and snow removal.
I mentioned some time ago that I thought that there must be some corruption somewhere in order for a city of 300,000 to 350,000 to be nearly $50 million dollars in the red. Maybe it wasn't true corruption but just a case of wanting the unions' votes in a close election. Whatever the reason for the mismanagement, we now have a senator representing us in Washington D.C. whom I do not trust. I certainly hope that he is a one-term senator and that we can vote him out before the country goes bankrupt!
Because of Begich's mismanagement of city funds, there are somewhere between fifty and two hundred employees who will be out of work by the end of the year. One of those employees is a police lieutenant whom I have known for many years. He is a good man and a good police officer who was recently promoted to lieutenant; therefore, he is no longer protected by the union. His new position is being eliminated.
It is a sad day when people have to suffer because of the mismanagement of someone else. It is even worse to watch the one responsible for the mess to actually move on to more glory! Besides all that, my property taxes will be going up again!