Tag Archives: fiscal policy

Redmond Oregon Needs More Police – NO FEES

Below is the Guest Opinion column I authored that was published in the Bend (Oregon) Bulletin September 29, 2017 and the Redmond Spokesman earlier in the week.

A public Hearing on this matter is scheduled for Monday, November 13, 2017 at  5:30 pm at City Hall in Redmond, Oregon:

On Tuesday evening September 19th, 2017 The Redmond City Council proposed tacking on a “public safety fee” of $6 a month to residents’ monthly utility bills ($72 per annum), raising the cash to add more Police officers to the Department. This is a terribly slippery slope. No City of Redmond resident vote is required to implement this fee.

Cities in Oregon are under siege to address increasing costs and stagnant revenues. While population growth in Redmond is projected to be flat in the near term, City law enforcement resources are, and have been, stretched beyond reason.  While a few Oregon cities have resorted to this type of fee to address resources for public safety, most have done so as a last resort – to avoid debilitating cuts in public safety and emergency services.  Yet, an aggressive leap into levying fees across the board in Redmond without voter approval, where no cuts in public safety resources are anticipated, demands dialog. A prudent person would ask the following:

Where can the City make cuts in the current budget? Have the City and the Police Department exhausted all available grant opportunities to provide funding for additional officers? Has our Congressional delegation in D.C. been consulted regarding available grant resources? What was their response? Are there other revenue streams that might be created whereby the non-resident population of the City of Redmond whose activities demand City law enforcement resources been considered and thoroughly exhausted? What percentage of City of Redmond law enforcement resources are expended on non-residents of the City of Redmond? What is the “sundown date” on such a fee? Are Redmond residents and the business community insulated from any future fee increases and/or fee levying activity by the Mayor and the City Council of this nature?

Utility fees are just that. They are also usage fees based upon actual consumption. The proposed public safety fee tacked onto utility bills is not a usage fee. Furthermore, to relegate community law enforcement staffing resources to a vehicle where wastewater and sewage fees are assessed is down right stinky…this suggestion simply does not pass the smell test.

Maybe Redmond should get out of the golf business…Redmond businesses and residents have borne City utility rate increases of 2%, as identified in the 2015/2016 budget and 3% effective July 2017. When one examines the 2016/2017 City Budget one thing jumps out: Golf Course debt at the beginning of the 2016/17 budget year was $4,812,778 with $419,611 of annual  debt service. Furthermore, the budget reveals: “Over the last several fiscal years, the General Fund has needed to cover the payments on the majority of these debt obligations. The FY 2016/17 budget assumes the General Fund will need to cover about 100% of the bond payments associated with building the golf course over a decade ago.” (p.50. of Redmond 2016/2017 Budget . 2017/2018 Budget is HERE).

Redmond, like many Oregon cities has and continues to have an addictive affection for urban renewal funds. However, there’s a downside to a fiscal focus of this nature – earmarking future property tax revenues to address the urban renewal debt already on the books. Thus, when the Police Department requires more officers to protect the community properly, City management is at a loss for where these funds will be derived. This is shortsighted.

The merit of the need for additional Police Officers for Redmond is unequivocal (although I need to be persuaded about the legitimate need for a “downtown foot patrol”). Yet, proceeding down this slippery slope of assessing fees to utility bills to provide adequate funding for the essential and fundamental public safety resources the community and the Department deserve – well – like I’ve said – demands dialog.

City of Redmond  financial resources have an uncanny inertia for expenditures designed for embalming the past (Evergreen Elementary School acquisition/renovation and ongoing expenditures attempting to re-invigorate a “downtown core,” and an urban renewal funds addiction) vs. planning for the absolute fundamental necessities of the future. The men and women of The Redmond Police Department deserve more personnel, resources, and vastly better financial planning from the City. So do the residents of the City of Redmond, Oregon.

Respectfully submitted,

Bill Dahl

A public hearing on this matter is scheduled for Monday, November 13, 2017 at  5:30 pm at City Hall in Redmond, Oregon.

Economiasma – Return To Sender – November 28th 2011 – by Bill Dahl

Here’s my Weekly Whiff of Economic $cents for November 28, 2011:

It’s that time of year….for the last two weeks our snail mailbox has bulged with junk mail from every imaginable (and unimaginable) source. Our digital in boxes are being pounded hourly by every retailer on Earth (Earlier today, my wife had 535 emails in her in-box having been away from her laptop for 10 days). Mail…coming at us from every conceivable source and direction. Heck, we’ve never heard of most of these folks that seem to have our addresses. The mail has become burdensome – a nuisance – a pest. Actually, it’s become primary source of fodder for our recycling bin. It’s in the spirit of recycling ideas that I write today.

You won’t find me in agreement with columnist George Will very often. However, his November 25, 2011 op-ed in the Washington Post is an exception. It seems to me that although the U.S. Congress cannot agree about basically anything that might translate into a comprehensive action agenda for moving this country forward, perhaps we’re  going to forced to chisel out one piece of a solution at a time. Re-engineering the U.S. Postal Service may be a great place to start.

As Will points out in his column, “USPS lost $5.1 billion in the latest fiscal year — after serious cost-cutting. Total 2012 losses may exceed $14 billion, a figure larger than the budgets of 35 states. “

Wow! I mean can you agree that this is unacceptable? If the USPS was a private company, there would be a horde of management consultant types walking around the place examining both the internal operations and the external reality to determine the viability of this outfit. Again, assuming the USPS was a private company, the management consultants would likely recommend one or more of the following:

a. Sell the entire USPS operation to an amalgam of private equity funds.

b. Arrange an immediate injection of very expensive capital.

c. Trim the labor force substantially (see Will’s column – Labor costs at USPS are  at 80% of overall costs.

d. Substantially reduce the daily operational requirements of the enterprise (Translation: reduce the number of days mail is delivered in America).

e. Identify strategic partners who might be willing to take the risk of doing certain aspects of the USPS business model profitably.

f. File a Chapter 11 bankruptcy petition to reorganize the whole bag of mail.

From where we sit in our family, we would be fine with mail delivery once a week. Frankly, we’d even go pick it up at a location within a reasonable proximity. We have to go to a USPS location to obtain the postage for outgoing packages etc.

You see, oftentimes, moving forward  requires leaving something behind. It may initially seem like sacrifice, feel strange, uncertain or even uncomfortable. Change is like that. It contains each of the aforementioned dimensions.

Are you willing to sacrifice to move forward together as a nation…or is your commitment to the future of our country just a bag of hot air? Change that involves a sacrifice by all is a notion that will carry the mail for this country. Let’s discard all our unique notions about the inconveniences we may suffer from. This is simply one opportunity to come together and leave behind some notions about inconvenience and sacrifice that are now clearly labeled, return to sender.

You can email or snail mail this to your elected representatives. The operating losses are yours – their mine – their ours – our U.S. tax dollars.  After reading this, maybe you might prefer the USPS to return to sender – your portion of the $14 billion dollars they are projected to lose in 2012.

Fat chance…you can throw that last one in your recycle bin.