Saturday, October 10, 2015

Mailer Wars '15: An unbalanced Gahan leads off with budgetary tall tales.

Jeff Gahan's first mailer is out, and it isn't balanced.

More tellingly, the DemoDixieDisneycratic Party's opening broadside is an attack on the Republican. It's likely to be the ongoing pattern, with Gahan aiming for the warm and fuzzy, while Adam Dickey brandishes the stiletto.

Just remember that Party Politics 101 is the primary reason for considering alternatives.

Previously we recalled Jeff Gahan's many promises from 2011. Curiously, among them was NOT a vow to fund $30 million in "quality of life" projects with TIF-backed bonds.

Shattered 2011 Gahan campaign promises, Part 1: The "good jobs" mayor!

Shattered 2011 Gahan campaign promises, Part 2: The "good education" mayor!

Shattered 2011 Gahan campaign promises, Part 3: The "let's work together" mayor!

NAC's Jeff Gillenwater explains.

Jeff Gahan likes to say that he has balanced the budget because it makes it sound as though he's somehow managed to run the city more efficiently. He's not as keen to put real numbers to that claim, though, for good reason.

As provided by the Department of Local Government Finance, the state agency that oversees local budgets, here are those actual numbers-- New Albany's annual budgets from each of the past few years. Gahan took office in 2012.

2011 - $14,665,386
2012 - $18,738,682
2013 - $20,084,675
2014 - $22,600,514
2015 - $24,300,565
2016 - Gahan is currently asking the City Council for another increase

Understandably given the large annual spending increases, the district tax rate has increased under Gahan each year as well.

Even with city government spending approximately $10,000,000 more per year now than it did before Gahan took over, those tax increases did not cover his tens of millions of dollars of additional spending on special and often seasonal projects like the aquatics center. Several of those projects, over $30 million, were financed with Tax Increment backed bonds, borrowed at interest against projected future tax revenues for the next 20 years. Many New Albanians 45 or older will likely be retired or perhaps even deceased before taxpayers manage to pay off just a single Gahan term as mayor.

And, as Gahan himself says, he's not done yet.

There's little reason to believe a second term would be differently focused, more efficient and practical, or more open and inclusive. As Roger Baylor says, transparency should not be a last resort. We shouldn't be reading about million dollar golf course deals months after the fact but we are. If, like many New Albanians, you're not comfortable with a mayor who tells you he's "balanced" the budget when he's substantially increased it or that he's paid off debt from previous administrations when he's taken on much more for comparatively frivolous projects and corporate subsidies, please vote accordingly.

Quality of life begins with honest communication, something that just doesn't figure in Jeff Gahan's accounting.

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