Thursday, June 14, 2012

Non Sports: Shocker! Mobile’s budget deficit could be a third of Mayor Jones’ forecast

image If you don’t live in Mobile, you can skip this post. Or, if you don’t care about liberal city leaders inflating budget deficit forecasts and scaring city council members into voting for a 25% tax increase, you may skip this post, too.

If you do live in Mobile, or if you’re tired of being coerced into swallowing a massive tax increase, check out this shocker from Local 15 News.

Mobile City Finance Director Barbara Malkolve informed the new citizens advisory committee that the budget deficit may not be as bad as first thought.

Malkolve says new figures reveal the budget hole could possibly be closer to $10 million for 2013 instead of $29 million.


Since the 2013 budget process began, Mayor Sam Jones and his crack staff have been projecting doom, gloom and despair if the City Council didn’t immediately accept his proposal to increase the city-wide sales tax by one cent.

“It’s just a penny,” poor-mouthed Jones and his cronies on the Council. And they had to do it right away, so that they could stockpile a cash reserve.

You know… Just to be ready when the hammer fell.

When enough grown-up Council members refused to do so, Jones trotted out all sorts of predictions and threats—like this under-the-radar attempt to scare local citizens—and warned of things like unanswered fire alarms, unpatrolled city streets and 911 calls going to voicemail, or something dire like that.

After a Blue Ribbon Commission of old Mobilians appointed by Council President Reggie Copeland reviewed the matter, they raised the ante. Mobile didn’t need a penny tax increase. They needed 1-1/2. A 25% tax increase wasn’t gettin’ her done. A 37.5% increase was the sweet spot, y’all.

The grown-ups dug in even deeper, appointing their own commission to review city finances. In the words of sponsor Bess Rich (my heroine), the citizens commission would be “adding transparency to the city's finances.”

That transparency has been sorely missing. For decades, the city has conducted business using dozens of so-called off-budget accounts, which are clever and convenient ways for the Mayor’s office to spend whatever the hell it wants on whatever the hell it wants, whenever the hell it wants to. All outside of the overview of the City Council and all out of the public’s eye.

Barely a month after a measure of transparency was imposed, we get the news that things aren’t as bad as they were made out to be.

Surprised? Don’t be. This is the same Mayor who wants you to believe that he’s properly managing the city’s financial affairs even though he can barely manage his campaign warchest. Footie pajamas?

The campaign finance irregularities have caused the Mobile District Attorney’s office to launch an investigation. Jones doesn’t run for reelection until 2013 and there’s not (yet) a credible opponent running to unseat him.

Unseat him, we must. Shenanigans like this can’t continue. The business of Mobile is business and the city needs to be taken seriously in the competitive arena of economic development. You can’t attract new businesses and stimulate growth if you can’t trust the administration to keep sharp pencils and get the math right.

We now return you to our regularly scheduled fare of college football, snark, fark and occasional satire.

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