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February 2009

County votes to take more of your money for four years

The Johnson County Board of Supervisors voted today on the term limit for the proposed local option sales tax that voters will consider in a May 5th special election.

In considering their flood mitigation project wish lists, area cities wanted a five-year sunset clause.    Some County Supervisors were pushing for a three-year sunset clause because they want to move forward with the proposed justice center - the local option sales tax proposal is an obstacle to that. 

The end result was a four-year sunset in a 3-2 vote.  Supervisors Terrance Neuzil and Rod "Blago" Sullivan voted against the four year time frame.  

In response to the vote, Coralville City Council member Mitch Gross said, "“I realize the economic times are tough, but the Iowa River doesn’t care about the economy.”

Does Mitch Gross have no shame?  What an emotionally manipulative thing to say.

Yes Mr. Gross, the economic times are tough, and it is ignorantly arrogant of you - or any other city or county elected official for that matter - to think that you know how to ward off Mother Nature.  The Coralville spillway has been overtopped just twice since going into operation in 1958, and you want to spend $54 million of our dollars on flood mitigation that won't work.  Those post '93 flood mitigation dollars did a lot of good huh?  Who told you building a dwelling right next to the river was a good idea?

It should be noted that County Auditor Tom Slocket suggested to make the expiration date of the tax coincide with the general election date. 

Gee, what a coincidence huh?  On the four-year deal that means the tax is *supposed* to expire on June 30, 2013.  That means tax-loving liberals (they LOVE to spend other people's money) of the cities and the county will have time to campaign for a renewal vote for the tax during the 2012 general election.  Slockett must have been sober this morning!

PROPOSED: That city governments and the Johnson County Board of Supervisors be REQUIRED to set aside money in their annual budgets for storm/natural disaster recovery and relief.

How is it that we have let our city and county governments to completely FAIL to save for a rainy day?

After the '93 flood and the lessons we supposedly learned there, had our so-called leaders had the wisdom to set aside - as is a common sense and RESPONSIBLE thing to do - we wouldn't be hearing this bogus call for a tax hike today.


Iowa City Council abuses taxpayers

It is wholly arrogant for any city council to think they can prevent Mother Nature from doing damage when she wants to.

Bailytax Under the guise of flood recovery and mitgation, the Iowa City Council has burdened voters with yet another tax hike proposal. Setting a voting date of May 5, the council claims they need to raise money for three major and very expensive infrastructure projects.  Those projects will be highlighted shortly.

Because Iowa City has more than 50 percent of Johnson County's population, they are the only community able to place this tax hike measure on the ballot.  Putting it on the ballot opens things up for other area communities to *share* in that tax collection pie.  This is nothing more than a way for cities to pad their budgets.  Elected officials from Coralville, Solon, etc., are gleefully seeing dollar signs.

Despite being *awarded* $2.4 MILLION in the Obama porkulus bill, the Iowa City Council wants to expand their spending spree with this tax proposal.  This new tax is estimated to pad the council's budget to the tune of $9 MILLION annually over a five year period, IF you believe the proposed Sunset clause will actually be allowed to kick in.  Can anyone identify a tax where the Sunset was triggered and the tax was no longer collected?

According to reports, the Iowa City Council wants to *start* (as in beginning, not completing) three major and very expensive infrastructure projects.

1.  Elevate Dubuque Street
2.  Replace the Park Road bridge
3.  Relocate the North Wastewater Treatment Plant

These projects are estimated to cost taxpayers around $90 MILLION.

It is wholly arrogant for any city council to think they can prevent Mother Nature from doing damage when she wants to.  After the floods of '93, both Iowa City and Coralville spent millions of dollars in flood mitigation projects.  Was that money well spent or was it money flushed down the toilet?  Are taxpayers OK with spending $90 MILLION of their hard-earned dollars on expensive and arrogant flood mitigation projects?  Consider this:  Since going into operation in 1958, the Coralville Dam spillway has been overtopped - twice.  That's 50 years, two floods. 

Things that make you go hmmmmmm........... Iowa City estimates collecting $9 MILLION annually with this new tax.......  There's an estimated $90 MILLION price tag for their pet projects.......  Matching funds from the state and fed for these projects are questionable at best.....  Do the math folks, THE PROPOSED 5 YEAR SUNSET CLAUSE IS A RUSE TO GET YOU TO VOTE FOR THE TAX! 

And as well intended the council promises are to keep the tax revenues restricted to flood-related projects and flood-related projects only, the state does not require them to do so.  If the council wants to buy some art with this money, they could.


Is the Johnson County Conservation Board playing a shell game with your money?

Johnson County voters narrowly approved a $20 MILLION land conservation bond measure in November after a heated battle over its vague merits and lack of detail. 

Given that paper thin margin of approval, given that forthcoming $20 MILLION windfall of cash, voters should find it *interesting*, the transfers of their money from wetlands projects, over to a building construction project.

According to the January 21, 2009 Johnson County Conservation Board Regular Meeting Minutes, Gerald Morgan - Vice President of the Conservation Board - made a motion to re-allocate $95,000 from wetlands projects, over to building a Kent Park Geothermal Campus.  The motion was approved.

What does that mean?  The Conservation Board is manipulating your money.  They know they have $20 Million of your money coming in.  So, with a windfall mindset they arrogantly think they have free reign to switch taxpayer money that you've already given to them, money that was budgeted for and committed to wetland project expansion - stuff the Conservation Bond issue was about by the way - switch that money over to a wish list building project that arguably at best - does NOT fall under the umbrella of the Conservation Bond.    

So not only has the Conservation Board approved taking money away from wetlands projects, they've essentially started spending money they haven't even received yet in the forthcoming $20 MILLION.  Call it a shell game, call it robbing Peter to pay Paul.  They're thinking they can play "catch up" with some of that bond money, by putting off two wetlands projects that were already on the books, planned out, and getting worked on prior to the bond issue.  They're delaying existing "green space" projects in favor of a new wish list building project.  The geothermal project isn't a need, it's a want.  Is that what you voted on?

And here's a thought.....  Expanding green spaces in Johnson County - wasn't THAT what the Conservation Bond issue was supposedly all about?  Pro-tax-us-more folks wanted more places like Kent Park in the county and without question, Kent Park is a fabulous place.  But remember that voters were vaguely promised more wetlands, green spaces, and walking trails such as those you find at Kent Park - in other areas of the county.  So how is robbing Peter to pay Paul accomplishing that?   Delay of wetlands construction is being fiscally responsible?

We cannot ignore the shell game that the Conservation Board is playing.  They need to be held accountable for the money they've already been given and they need to be taken to task for not living up to their promises.  They need to stop playing rob Peter to pay Paul games with OUR money that only leads to deficit spending and future unjustified calls to raise taxes - AGAIN.

Future *sob-story* dialog from Director Graves:  "The wetland project is costing much more than we originally anticipated.  Inflation pertaining to contracting, labor costs and materials has hit us hard, so we've had to exceed the budget in getting this done."  

How about that delay huh?  How 'bout that robbing Peter to pay Paul shell game tactic huh?  This switcheroo and delay on the wetlands is going to cost you more money in the long run.  You read it here first, that's where we're headed.

Email Conservation Board Director Harry Graves, and tell him to quit playing games with our money.

hgraves@co.johnson.ia.us


County not serious about taxpayer money and tough economy

JOHNSON COUNTY -- From the February 9, 2009 minutes from the informal meeting:  Budget Coordinator Rich Claiborne stated said the only thing that has changed in the budget is they cut back the Rural Basic Budget.  They paired back the trail to $75,000 rather than $100,000.  They also cut out the $400,000 in Capital Improvement Projects.  The budget is down overall by $118,000. 

We're talking about a budget in the neighborhood of $84 million, and the Supervisors are only cutting back $118,000?  The Supervisors are proposing to cut back $400,000 in capital improvement projects, but the overall budget proposal is only going down $118,000 - that means there is growth in other areas does it not?

From the minutes:  R. Sullivan said they can almost assume that the numbers from the budget they just did will be the same next year.  Harney said hopefully it will go down.  Stutsman asked if R. Sullivan was talking about the budget or valuations.  R. Sullivan said if the valuations stay the same they should have the same in the General Fund as they do this year.  In his mind they could start the 2011 budget because they know what they have to work with. 

It's Supervisor Rod Sullivan's mentality and approach to budgeting that has put the county into its current fiscal predicament.  Supervisors led by former Chairman Rod Sullivan arrogantly thought the area economy would spin like a top forever.  Sullivan and others didn't consider the possibility of declining tax *revenues* (your paycheck) resulting from a sour economy.  Some Supervisors didn't ask "what if?", and failed to plan for a rainy day.  In his mind they can start work on the 2011 budget and assume valuations won't change?  That's irresponsible! 

To be continued....



Supervisors not getting serious about budget cuts

As county government looks for properties they can buy, as residents of Johnson County watch their incomes shrink, a pay raise for County Supervisors would seem glaringly out of touch. If officials are going to talk the talk of fiscal discipline, they must also walk the walk of self-restraint. The residents of Johnson County are not getting a pay raise this year, and neither should Supervisors.

From Supervisor Rod Sullivan's liberal newsletter, Sullivan's Salvos

"The budget the Supervisors are bringing to the public hearing is for approximately $84,100,000 dollars. The total budget is $125,000 less than last year, which translates to an overall decrease of -.001%."

What Sullivan FAILS to tell us is that the fiscal 2009 budget was originally certified at $75.9 million, but actual expenditures were about $84.2 million.  That's called spending more than you budgeted for.  That's either poor management, or Supervisors are managing our money with irresponsible arrogance.  Either way, it's bad.  And now Sullivan tries to pull the wool over our eyes in pretending to be serious with a very misleading claim of decrease? 

FY 2007--Expenditures $53.8 million
FY 2008--Expenditures $66.8 million
FY 2009--Certified Budget $75.9 million (but actual expenditures were $84.2 million)
FY 2010--Tentative Budget $84.08 million

The Johnson County Supervisors have increased their budget 56% in this time frame!  That's OUTRAGEOUS!  Remember, the Supervisors may be the management, but YOU are the Board of Directors.  Where is your money going and why aren't Supervisors getting serious about making REAL cuts?

Have you seen 56% growth in your budget?  Did I mention Supervisors want a raise?


Rely on private sector for economic recovery, not government

RNC Chair Michael Steele faced off Monday against DNC Chair Gov. Tim Kaine on the issue of President Obama's porkulus package.  

About the GOP stance

The Republican Party is unified in opposition to the Democrat spending bill that is being rammed through Congress.  Out of 219 Republican congressmen and senators, 216 of them voted against this Democrat plan.  Who ignored history and betrayed taxpayers with votes of porkulus approval?  Senator Arlen Spector (R-PA.), Senator Olympia Snowe (R-ME.), and Senator Susan Collins (R-ME.)


Johnson County budget increases 56% in 3 years

I just received the email from Johnson County about their budget.  The headline says, "Supervisors Propose Decrease in FY '10 County Budget."

Of course the headline spin doesn't exactly tell the truth if you actually look at the numbers:

FY 2007--Expenditures $53.8 million
FY 2008--Expenditures $66.8 million
FY 2009--Certified Budget $75.9 million (but actual expenditures were $84.2 million)
FY 2010--Tentative Budget $84.08 million

They call this a decrease to the budget, however I would consider it an increase of 11%.  In 2009, they spent 11% more than they had planned.  Who is to say that won't happen again? 

The headline should say, "County budget increases 56% in 3 years."

One question--why a $9 million increase in block grants?  Why a 1600% increase in the "general supplemental" fund?

Smoke and mirrors, folks.  I wonder if the PC will report the press release, or actually crunch the numbers for the truth.

Brad Franzwa, North Liberty


Growing Government to Solve Economic Problems Has Never Worked

U.S. Rep. Steve King

Steve king There is an old saying you may have heard your grandmother or high history teacher recite at some point.

"Those who ignore history are condemned to repeat it."

After Speaker Nancy Pelosi recently muscled a 647-page, $819 billion economic "stimulus" bill through the House, that simple statement seems more appropriate now than ever. Pelosi and other liberals in Congress believe growing government is the way to solve the economic problems our country currently faces.

Unfortunately, this economic philosophy is straight out of the failed Great Depression-era playbook. The United States tried massive government spending to solve economic problems in the 1930's, and today we call the result the Great Depression.

President Franklin Roosevelt possessed tremendous leadership skills and inspired many Americans, but historians often inflate or overlook the true economic record of his time in office. Roosevelt tried big government program after big government program, with poor results.

Throughout the 1930's, the unemployment rate never dipped below 14 percent. FDR's tinkering with the free market frustrated investors, and the 1929 high point for the Dow Jones industrial average was not reached again until 1954. Many of Roosevelt's programs and initiatives led the government to compete directly with the private sector for capital and workers, with the government making the rules.

The short-term result of FDR's big spending was minimal. Food shortages continued to exist, millions of Americans remained without jobs and true recovery did not occur. In the long run, FDR's stimulus efforts resulted in higher tax rates and greater government involvement in citizens' lives.

These days, Washington is engaged in a serious debate about which economic path America should pursue going forward. Some are advocating for the command and control, socialist approach found in Europe. Others, like me, are defending free market capitalism.

Growing government as a means to stimulate the economy has always delayed the recovery. The private sector should bring economic solutions, not government.

Speaker Pelosi and liberals in Congress are pushing hard for more government programs and spending. The "stimulus" bill she personally shepherded through the House contained hundreds of billions of dollars in record deficit spending that will only fund federal subsidies, pet projects and more bureaucracy.

The level of pork-barrel spending in her bill is unprecedented. A few examples: $335 million for sexually transmitted disease education and prevention programs, $50 million for the National Endowment for the Arts, $400 million for NASA climate change research and $150 million for building repairs at the Smithsonian.

The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office estimated that the debt incurred to pay for the bill would add another $347 billion to the bill's total cost. Added together, the total cost of the legislation is $1.165 trillion.

If this bill passes, our grandchildren will inherit a country further in debt and less able to grow out of a crisis. Pelosi and liberals in the House want a far bigger New Deal than the old New Deal, the instrument most responsible for the delay of our recovery from the Great Depression.

A true short-term, market-based stimulus would include capital gains tax elimination and more tax relief for small business owners. Pulling capital off the sidelines and back into our markets is the best way to boost the American economy.

Right now, the last thing we need is big spending and more government programs. Should Congress choose to follow that failed path, we risk making the same mistakes made in the turbulent 1930's.