LETTER TO THE EDITOR
City budget is public business
Citizens of Pea Ridge, Now that the election is over with all the ugliness, name-calling and other so –called “campaign politics,” we need to be concerned with the business end and future endeavors of our elected city government. Specifically, the 2019 city budget.
There is scheduled to be a “Committee of the Whole” meeting at City Hall at 4 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 20, to discuss the proposed 2019 city budget with all department heads, council members and mayor.
At this point the proposed city budget is at $9,126,595 with $4,038,290 of it designated for “city general.” These are our tax dollars that are being spoken for and how the administration intends to spend and/or commit them.
This is by far the largest budget proposal I have seen in my 13 years as councilman.
Afterwards, the City Council meeting is scheduled the same day at 7 p.m. with all apparent intentions to approve this budget in its entirety without the taxpayer having the opportunity to view or have any input until it becomes an ordinance. By law, the city budget does not have to be approved and voted on until Feb. 1, 2019, which would give ample time and opportunity for the taxpayer to view and question this budget proposal before it is put into action via city ordinance.
Additionally, there will be put to a vote “merit pay increases” for all city employees at this meeting. This may or may not include “cost of living” increases as well. There are no pay caps for any departments to my knowledge.
Please plan to attend this meeting and be advised that our city currently is in debt nearly 16 million to date (including the much needed water treatment plant upgrade).
You have the right to know how/if /when there is a plan to pay off this debt or is this just going to be left for the next city administration to figure out. More and much higher taxes are imminent to be sure.
My fear is that with the current spending pattern coupled with the existing debt, we could lose our city charter and our “bedroom community” will become a suburb of Bentonville because of our overwhelming and ever increasing city debt. That is a very real possibility.
Please plan to attend this very important meeting. Questions need to be asked and answered by those who work for you and I the citizen/taxpayer.
BOB COTTINGHAM Alderman, Ward 1 Position 2 Pea Ridge