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Just Say No to the City of Ferndale – Part 1

A recent Whatcom View article titled  Mayor says Ferndale tax increase needed to repair roads can be credited with offering sufficient irritation that I found the time to again write in this blog.

Recently the City of Ferndale has been emphasizing and funding extreme street makeovers like the Second Ave Extension, including the useless park next to a rail yard.  Now the Mayor says that funding is “woefully short” for basic road maintenance and repairs so the must ask the voters for a two-tenths of 1% sales tax increase.

Anyone who has driven on the hill in Ferndale knows that there are roads that need repairing.  That fact is not in doubt.  Even so, I can’t support this tax increase because a tax increase is not required to afford the repairs.   Rather, the City needs to get back to focusing already available funds on repair and scheduled maintenance of existing roads so that we get maximum life from them.  It was while attending a City Council meeting that I first heard mention of  a time in the last few years where funding for street repairs was cut.  The Mayor didn’t mention it in his letter, but it was briefly mentioned in another Herald Article.

Malpezzi said he voted against putting the increase request on the ballot because he didn’t believe the public would support it.

And he said the issue was one of priorities, noting that money that would have come from the solid waste tax to pay for street maintenance and repair has instead been shifted elsewhere, referring specifically to help pay for a new police station.

capture suspend maintenance fundingRight on both accounts!  I don’t think the public will support the increase and It looks like it could have been in 2009 that funding for road maintenance was  suspended, though I’m not a financial expert so I could be mistaken.   However, even an amateur review of Ferndale’s current budget and budgets for the last 4-5 years shows that overall revenue from property taxes, sales taxes and various utility taxes have steadily increased and are projected to keep steadily increasing.  Let me repeat that since that is not what you hear from the City officials or read in the news, overall revenue from property taxes, sales taxes and various utility taxes have steadily increased and are projected to keep steadily increasing.

What I also determined during my quick review,  was that what the City refers to as  a revenue shortfall in the road repair budget  is simply the negative effects of excessive spending, excessive borrowing, misguided priorities and what amounts to a financial account shell game where the council and mayor regularly “tap” funds from one account for use in another often unrelated account.  I was actually amazed at the the amount of  fund “tapping” going on in the City government.   Am I the only one who didn’t know that our Solid Waste Taxes have been systematically inflated, not for Solid Waste disposal, but for leveraging loans and/or state and federal grants for new streets or perhaps a police station. Don’t believe me?

SWT funding If you read the rest of this Request for Council Action don’t miss the list of annual 1% tax increases on the second page.  it’s quite a long list of increases that adds up to so much more revenue than this little two tenths of 1% business.

So really this boils down to the fact that the City of Ferndale does not need a tax increase to repair roads.  The have plenty of revenue to fund street repair without a sales tax increase.  Sadly, instead of taking care of business, they’ve gone the route of shuffling things around, using the money elsewhere, doing the extreme makeover thing and then coming back to the people with a sob story.  Call me cruel, but I say no to the tax increase the same way I say no to the hungry kid crying for more lunch money because he bought candy with his on the way to school.

Sorry, but No!

And I hope you make a better choice next time.

Coming up

Just Say No to the City of Ferndale – Part 2: How small towns like Ferndale contribute to the financial decline of our nation.

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