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He who hesitates is surely lost………

6 December 2012 Chuck Keysor 4 Comments

At last year’s “Truth in Taxation” hearing, which was part of the last Elgin city council session before the final budget was approved, I was surprised when Mayor Kaptain asked if anyone had any comments. I had comments, as did a couple of other people, and we each got to stand up at the podium and express our views on the budget. Since I wasn’t prepared last year, I said, this year, I will write a speech, and let them have it….. So this afternoon, I spent over an hour, to compose speech to deliver tonight. (I composed on my computer, but since I don’t want to spend $27 for a rip-off HP printer ink cartridge, I had to copy the entire speech by hand, so I could read it to the council.)

At the start of the “Truth in Taxation” hearing, Mayor Kaptain opened the special session, and then called Colleen Lavery, the City’s top financial officer, to report on the taxes and budget. After just a couple of minutes, Mayor Kaptain asked, “Does anyone have any questions for Colleen Lavery?” I sat there thinking, gee, I don’t have any questions for Colleen. I have a speech for the council. Last year, he asked if anyone wanted to speak to the council about the taxes and budget. As I started to go, hmmm, maybe I should ask if I can make a speech that is not directed at Colleen, the Mayor said, I declare this special session closed!

I sat there, feeling rather deflated, and rather stupid, for having prepared a speech, for nothing. When the council session was over, I went up to the Mayor and said, You know the old saying, he who hesitates is surely lost….. Well, when you asked for questions for Colleen, I paused and wondered, thinking you would ask for speeches, and next thing I knew, the session was closed. I said I was not complaining, and that perhaps it was all for the better, as I would have probably cast a little cloud of this otherwise upbeat council session.

So, I figured since I had typed my speech, I would let you read it, and tell me if it was a good or bad thing that I did not get to deliver my little protest! Here is my speech, comment, and let me have it! Chuck

“Good evening Mr. Mayor, members of City Council and City Staff. Concerning the taxing and budget for 2013, I am disappointed and upset with the council and staff. The massive new tax increases of about $10million that went into effect this year, and which will automatically increase in 2013 to $13million, were based upon assumptions and projections that were in error if not completely false.

At last fall’s budget meetings, I publicly stated that even Nobel Prize winning economists could not even agree if we were going to have a double dip recession in 2012. So how can the City of Elgin, without even one economist on staff possibly make meaningful financial projections out through the year 2015?

The falsehood of the projections was proven when the books for 2011 were audited last spring. That showed that we did not have the $1.75million deficit that we had all been promised by the City Staff in June of 2011. That $1.75million deficit had been the spring point for a series of deficits that were to rack up to $4.5 million over 5 years. Instead of the $1.75million deficit, we had a surplus of $652,000 at the end of 2011! That is an error of 368%! And as very new/added proof of City Staff’s inability to forecast past the end of its nose, during this year’s budget discussions, Sean Stegall announced that the City has an unexpected increase in revenues beyond what was budgeted for 2012. How much was this little error? Only $2million.

I also stated last year that I had grave concerns, because the City didn’t even have faith in its own figures. The City’s original June 2011 5 year structural debt estimate totaled about $4.5 million. Then in September, that figure was raised to $8.8 million. And in case that wasn’t enough to scare everyone, in October the City said the 5 year total debt would be between $10 and $13million! In the space of 4 months, the structural deficit had been increased by 188%. Clearly there was NO stability in these numbers. Why would anyone want to trust such unstable numbers, especially when the consequences of a faulty projection were so great?

To me, all of this talk of deficits and financial catastrophe was a scare tactic to make it possible to shove through a massive tax increase of $10 million in 2012, that balloons to $13,000 in 2013. This reminds me of a tactic George W. Bush used, with his scare tactics of Weapons of Mass Destruction being falsely used to justify the War in Iraq.

If only “W”could have see how the City of Elgin whipped up a budget crisis in advance of last year’s budget, he would have only started with the claim that Iraq had Weapons of Mass Destruction! Then he would have upped the stakes and said that the Iraqis had hydrogen bombs. And finally, to seal the deal, he could have claimed Iraq was going to drop the moon on the United States.

Your (the City Staff’s) deception worked, and you got all of the tax hikes that you wanted. We even have a budget surplus of $7million in 2012’s budget. And in the 2013 budget, there is a $10million surplus. And now we are even in line for more with our pending “Rain Tax”.

I would like to thank John Prigge for at least voting against the worst of these new taxes. And I’d like to thank former Councilman Terry Gavin for being an unwavering and vocal critic of this budget crisis scam. Let’s hope the Citizens will be paying attention next April 9th, and will will get some relief next year.”

Chuck

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4 Responses to “He who hesitates is surely lost………”

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  1. RS says:

    nice story, chuck. have you considered printing your speeches at the library? i guess it wouldn’t save much time unless you’re already headed there for something else. might be less torturous though…

  2. Terry Gavin says:

    Great post Chuck! Let’s not forget that at the first budget meeting this year at the Heritage Ball Room when the Mayor announced the need for the Storm Water Utility study, aka “Rain water tax”, he said it was needed to cover a new “crisis” of sewer separation that was impacting some older neighborhoods. Never mind that this is a 40 some year old problem or that Elgin has been separating sewers as we redo streets in those neighborhoods, we NEED a new tax on rain water to do it faster & now. Anyone who’s been around for awhile & watched this city council for the last 2 years sees the same tactic being used 1) call out a crisis 2) demand that we must tax the residents & business
    owners to pay for the so called “crisis”.

    There should still be at least one more “public” meeting to address the council regarding the 2013 Budget before the vote to approve it. While I didn’t plan on speaking again last night I fully intend to speak to the last 2 years of city budgets & the massive tax increases
    during the coming campaign. By the way instead of calling the city’s extra cash taken from us as “surplus” or they like to call “working cash capital”, I will call them what they are OVER CHARGES! To me that sounds so much more honest then “surplus” or “working cash captial”.

    • One Vote says:

      Terry, you left out a step.
      1) Call out a crisis
      2) Spend at least $200K on a CYA consultant
      3) Impose a new tax.

      • Terry Gavin says:

        Of course, how could I forget that step? Like the $288,000 for the Rain Tax study & the estimated $400,000 hydro-electric dam study that Mayor Kaptain wants too.

        Whatever happened to that huge “deficit” crisis we faced last year? Sure seems like the city has lots of cash to throw around these days. Oh that’s right it’s magically gone & they even lowered our property taxes. (Snark added)