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(Text below copied from scan of document received)
So now he wants to hire a City Manager or "PRO" to
handle the city finances and create a major change in the method of
running the city business. Does he wants us to feel chagrin at his
mention of creating a different way to track and manage city
finances? In no way do I, as City Treasurer, feel embarrassed or
humiliated by another of your "pie in the sky theories" or your
"promissory rhetoric" about how the City of Lincoln's finances are
currently handled. Further, I do not feel in any way that I am a
failure or disappointment to the people in Lincoln in my elective
position as City Treasurer for the years I have served the taxpayers
in that capacity. Many have told me over the years that they are
pleased with how I keep the City Council, the Mayor and the
taxpayers of Lincoln informed about the status of the city's
finances. In addition, I am pleased to be able to work with Melanie
Riggs, the Lincoln City Clerk, whose is by far the most intelligent
and knowledgeable person on City finances that I know. She is
literally a walking encyclopedia on the financial operations of our
city. I challenge Pat O'Neill or anyone else to top her in the
knowledge and execution of procedures necessary to perform the
duties of her office and those pertaining to city finances.
I am amazed that Mr. O'Neill knows "the city has
financial resources to fund the position of City Manager", or should
I call that person a City Manager of Finances? To be quite honest,
Pat O'Neill has never asked the City Treasurer or City Clerk Melanie
Riggs about anything regarding the finances, city budget, revenue
streams, anticipated expenditures or annual audits, which are
accurate and timely in accordance with state statutes.
Pat O'Neill needs to understand that a number of his
ideas for changing city government are really just that. His
"promissory rhetoric" is not only unrealistic in many instances, but
also financially impossible to achieve by the City of Lincoln unless
new revenue streams are found or he is going to ask the taxpayers to
vote tax increases to achieve those promises in these troubled
economic times? Basic reasoning and research will prove such
promises cannot be achieved at this time. For example: In the July
25, 2008 Lincoln Daily News Mr. O'Neill calls for bringing the
police, fire and street departments up to full staffing levels.
There is not a current member of the City Council that doesn't
believe that these three entities need more staff; however, they
also realize that the costs for providing such staff just won't fit
into the current budgetary limits of the City of Lincoln. Prior to
recently agreed upon labor contracts with city employees the cost
the first year for hiring 3 new police officers, 3 new firemen and 3
new street department workers would be approximately $368,000 the
first year including salaries and benefits. After the first year
that cost would escalate to approximately $441,000 for the second
year. Where do we find the funds for such action, Mr. O'Neill?
[to top of second column in this letter]
As for Mr. O'Neill's questioning about
the expenses for legal advice by the city, and his personal vendetta
against City Attorney Bill Bates being paid too much for such
advice, I can only say that after watching and participating in
numerous City Council meetings over the years I am positive that
such legal expenses are well justified. In reviewing the minutes of
the September 23, 2008 City Council meeting I found that City
Attorney Bates was either requested to comment on a topic or felt it
necessary to do so no less than 16 times during the course of the
meeting. I have personally witnessed that Mr. Bates's legal advice
on many occasions over the years has likely prevented numerous
possible legal problems for the City Council. His knowledge of the
City Code and the statutes of the State of Illinois regarding the
operation of City government are impeccable. It would be a foolish
move, in my opinion, to reduce the availability of legal advice to
the City Council, Mayor, Department Heads, City Clerk and other
employees of the City.
Before you decide to cut the number of meetings of the City Council
from four to two meetings a month, Mr. O'Neill, you had better get
some grasp of the numerous needs of council members to discuss the
multitude of needs, problems and concerns of the City. The various
committees need to bring their business before the Council at
Committee of the Whole meetings to decide what things need formal
action or approval by the Council at a regular voting meeting.
In July, Mr. O'Neill also stated that he would be
interested in creating a tax incentive for residents who improve
their homes. Few would disagree with that idea, but, that's not a
realistic possibility, is it? Are we talking about creating some tax
laws for Illinois? Good Luck!!!
As City Treasurer for more than a decade I sincerely
believe that I have a pretty good handle on the finances for the
City of Lincoln. I do not profess to have the knowledge that City
Clerk Mel Riggs has and as I said before, the City of Lincoln
finances are in good hands with her at the realm. True, I do not
make voting decisions about how to expend the City's monies as only
the City Council can approve such expenditures. By the way, the
Mayor votes only in case of a tie in approving expenditures. I am
certain that through consultation with the City Clerk I have been
able to keep the City Council, Mayor and Citizens pretty well
informed about City finances. They don't always agree or like what I
tell them, but, that's o.k. as that's their job as elected officials
to question such statements.
I have taken out petitions for election to the
office of City Treasurer in the next election. Hopefully, the people
of Lincoln are pleased with my work as City Treasurer and will see
fit to return me to that office for four more years.
October 25, 2008]
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