Councilmen & fellow citizens,
My name is Eric Broyles. I am the Vice Chairman of the Crystal Coast Tea Party Patriots of Carteret County. Thank you for allowing me to speak tonight. The core principles of the Tea Party are simple:
1) Fiscal responsibility
2) Limited Constitutional Government
3) Free markets that protect the American economy and labor.
In short, we believe in less taxes, less fees, less spending, and less government.
Presently, most governmental bodies are talking about raising taxes or fees again on citizens to solve their budgetary short comings. Raising taxes at this time will immediately impact 29% or more of the county’s population consisting of citizens over the age of 65 and the unemployed who are on fixed and/or limited income. This does not take into consideration underemployed citizens, citizens who have taken a reduction in pay, working a temporary job, or who have given up all together looking for work. To further exacerbate the situation, the price for basic food staples has almost doubled or tripled in cost over the past two to three years. Unfortunately, citizen’s salaries and retirement incomes have not kept pace with the inflationary price increases on food and gas.
The recession, which roots go back to December of 2007, is still upon us. Until we can bring about change in Washington, which restores common sense and fiscal responsibility back into how they govern and spend taxpayer’s money, I do not perceive that things will get much better in the near future. Somewhere along the line, Washington and many governmental bodies forgot it was the taxpayer’s money they were spending and not theirs. It is not a rite of passage to keep tapping into the people’s wallet every time there is a financial crisis or a miscalculation on the part of government.
Currently, the City Council, the Mayor, and the City Manager are laboring through the process of putting a budget together for 2012. Our Nation and our State are facing difficult economic times and challenges. Based on an article in the Sunday Carteret County Times-News paper of May 8, 2011, the Town of Morehead City is looking at proposing a revenue neutral budget for the upcoming fiscal year, which means there will be no increase in the budget from the previous year. In the future, yearly surpluses of tax revenue should always be returned to the taxpayer, once the emergency contingency fund is fully funded. Remember, the word T.E.A. in Tea Party stands for Taxed Enough Already.
There are several concerns that I have which I will go through one by one. First and deepest concern is with the expenditure and use of taxpayer’s dollars on non-essential projects and the millions the city has spent from general revenues or borrowed to fund these types of projects, especially considering the financial crisis we are in. Some of the financing for these projects included borrowing funds from Water and Sewage and the Utilities fund. We already have one file cabinet located in West Virginia filled with trillion of dollars of I.O.U.s from the Federal Government when they raided the people’s Social Security Old Age Retirement Fund. We certainly do not need to start that funds raiding practice here, especially for non-essential projects like the $1.15 million Jib property expenditure to nowhere. Furthermore, our City government has no business expending hard earned taxpayer’s dollars for non-essential projects, especially projects that should have been funded and/or financed by the private sector. The O’Neal Field or Big Rock Stadium as some call it is one such example. According to Councilman Horton’s comments in the Council meeting minutes of February 9, 2010, the ballpark project was projected to originally cost $900,000, with an initial commitment of $400,000 in taxpayer funds. The remaining difference in cost was being funded by donations and or grants. Three years later, the cost of the project has escalated to over $2.4 million dollars and has consumed at least $1.6 million dollars of taxpayer’s money. I use the word consumed because it took a whooping bite out of the taxpayer’s wallet. Hopefully, the City is more successful in negotiating a more lucrative 3 to 5 year contract with Riverfront Sports & Entertainment, which would allow the City to retain some of the gross income from various forms of advertising, concession sales, ticket sales, and etc..
Next, I am concerned about the duplication of services that further waste taxpayer’s dollars (e.g. certain police services). Our City and County elected officials should be working together jointly to find solutions to best utilize the taxpayer’s dollars in eliminating the duplication of services. Additionally, projects that mutually benefit both City and County residents should be done jointly; otherwise, the project should not be done or a fee mechanism developed to at least tax the residents of the non-participant. For example, non City residents should pay a $2 or $4 higher gate fee at Marlins games.
Next concern is the unused property like the High School on Bridges Street, the Old Police Building, the Jib property, and the unused boat docks at Jaycee Park. I have never understood why the Police and E-911 did not relocate to the old High School building in order to save taxpayers millions of dollars. This didn’t make much sense to me, but that is because it is probably above my pay grade as a citizen. These properties should be utilized, sold, and/or rented within the next two years. Any money obtained from the rental and/or sale of the properties should be used to either lower future property tax rates or be refunded to the citizenry. If you recall, it was their money in the first place.
The last matter concern is the fact that our City Government has frozen the wages of our valuable and hard working employees for the past three years so they could pursue the purchase of non-essential properties, like the Jib property, boat ramps, and etc. Has our Mayor, our City Manager, and our City Council forgotten that they have families too that have been affected by inflationary price increases? How can you expect your employees to take pride in the work they perform or to take care of citizen’s interest, when you do not tend to their basic needs and interests? I am all in favor of lowering cost and decreasing taxes but not at the expense or unfair treatment of our city employees. I encourage you to find a solution in the existing budget you are proposing to make it right!
In conclusion, as I see it Councilmen, Mayor Jones, and City Manager Martin we have both a prioritization problem in the allocated use of taxpayer’s dollars and a spending problem. Both must be addressed immediately and brought under control. When you spend the people’s money, you are fiscally responsible and accountable for every dollar spent. Likewise, you are responsible for the fair treatment and proper care of the Citizen’s employees. Open government and full disclosure is always the best policy. Never forget, you swore an oath to uphold the U.S. Constitution and to serve the people’s will. God Bless America, God Bless our State, God Bless our County and Town, and God Bless every citizen from wherever they may hail. May God give our leaders the divine wisdom to lead with righteousness.
We The People – Your Employer.