TRUSTBuild program a duplication

Published 12:00 am Thursday, July 13, 2006

To the Editor:

You can’t keep throwing money at a problem and hope it solves itself. This has been said many times by our city leadership.

That analogy brings me to this point. It seems to me that an explanation with more clarity is needed so that the citizens of Selma will understand the purpose and intent of the TRUSTBuild program.

As I watched the Power Point presentation by the mayor, I could not help but feel that a duplication of cost and responsibility were being used to accomplish jobs that were already assigned and budgeted.

Potholes – Public Works. Overgrown Lots – Code Enforcement and Public Works. Abandoned cars – Code Enforcement.

Unless I am mistaken these areas of concern should have had everyday attention by these different departments. Initiating a program, especially at the expense of $700,000 a year, which usurps the authority of these departments, is a slap in the face to many city employees. The mayor and city council seem to be saying to the public that these departments are not capable of handling every day responsibilities or that proper supervision or motivation are not present from the department heads. Selma has the highest city employee to population ratio of any other city this size.

The population of our city is approximately 19,000 and decreasing. At last count, there are about 390 city employees. This is one city employee for every 49 citizens.

Other cities have not found it necessary to implement a $700,000 duplication program or add 25 more employees to carry out their responsibilities to the citizens.

The merchants and spending public in Selma can collect only so much sales tax and pay only so much property tax. At some point in time the citizens are expecting a positive return for their hard work and money spent.

A reduction in crime, open communication, less division in the city, these would be returns the citizens would greatly appreciate.

A program with this outrageous price tag which reeks of duplication and smells like “good old boy” politics is in no way a positive return to our city, instead, it burdens the taxpayer financially.

After reading the Management Report for the 2004-2005 budget year, I find it hard to believe that any of the city leaders know the actual financial condition of this city.

Words used by the auditors such as “confusion,” “delays,” “problems caused by miscommunication.” One part of the report stated that failure to perform certain tasks on a regular basis was weakening the internal control structure which was increasing the risk that errors could go undetected and increased the ability for fraud to occur unnoticed.

Social programs aimed at solving basic need problems of a community usually ends up being “the rich get richer and the poor get poorer” or “the powerful achieve more power and the little man ends up picking up the tab” situation.

Our city leadership is digging a financial hole that will take the citizens years to fill.

May God bless Selma.

Gene Hisel