At the Monday June 18th Special City Council meeting the council passed a motion made by Rick Almberg that the city is now in a fiscal emergency. With the emergency declaration it is now possible for the council to make and vote on amendments during the same meeting greatly lessening the length of time that the council has to consider these motions. OHMC Chapter 1.04 allows for final consideration of all amendments to be taken at a single meeting as long as an emergency is declared beforehand.
At this same meeting another motion made by Rick Almberg under the color of this declared “emergency” was passed that has greatly restricted the Mayor, City Administrator and department heads. This motion limits the amount the Mayor and his staff can spend without City Council approval. Previously the Mayor was allowed to spend up to $30,000.00, the City Administrator $20,000.00 and the department heads $10,000.00 without council approval now the limit has been placed at $10,000.00 for everyone with spending authority including the Mayor.
Now this may be well and good if the city is really facing a fiscal emergency, but that of course is debatable. Our Mayor tells us that the city is in great financial shape and there is no need for declaring a fiscal emergency but of course the Mayor’s opinion and the facts presented by him are frequently overlooked by the City Council.
You would have to assume that if the city was actually in a fiscal emergency the council would be doing everything in it’s power to lessen the fiscal damage to the taxpayers of this city but apparently that is not happening.
Directly after the June 18th meeting where this emergency was declared Tara Hizon, Danny Paggao, Bob Severns, Beth Munns and Rick Almberg left for an out of state conference at taxpayers expense. The expense for this trip to the AWC conference in Vancouver, WA was over $3500.00, certainly not a huge figure but with a fiscal emergency declared in our city the day before by our City Council this certainly leaves a bad taste in the taxpayer mouths.
Looking at the budget and expenses for these travel items the City Council does not seem to be policing itself during this declared fiscal emergency like they are forcing the rest of the city to.
The budget for travel to these conference and travel functions was set at $13,050.00, broken down as follows:
In State travel- $4550.00
Out of State travel- $7000.00
Miscellaneous (registrations)- $1500.00
Current conference and travel
total for all Council members- $17,561.09
Over Budget by $4,511.09
To this date here is the spending breakdown:
Tara Hizon- $5.646.03
Danny Paggao- $1345.63
Bob Severns- $4346.78
Joel Servatius- $0.00
Beth Munns- $1532.60
Rick Almberg- $674.68
Jim Campbell- $4015.37
Currently the councils total travel expenses so far this term is $4,511.09 over budget. Is that being fiscally responsible with the taxpayers dollars? Especially if we are truly as the Council states in a fiscal emergency?
Is the current declaration of a fiscal emergency really based on factual evidence that our city is in fiscal troubles even though our Mayor says it is not? I have read the presentation given to the council and it is not that convincing.
Is the declaration of a “fiscal emergency” only another example of the City Council using any method it can to lessen the power of our new Mayor?
When we consider the recent actions of the Council against the new Mayor it is becoming more and more apparent that these actions are designed to do nothing more than politicize city hall and punish our new Mayor for being elected by the people of this city. He is obviously not one of them and they are telling him so…
The City Council has fought the Mayor over everything he has attempted to do for our city.
- While previous Mayors have fired and hired city staff with no controversy now all of a sudden it has become a major issue with our City Council. An issue that is apparently only important to the City Council and it’s supporters.
- The Mayors attempt to elevate one of our fine Oak Harbor Policemen to the police Chiefs position was met by a change of rules by the Council designed specifically to not allow the Mayors choice to apply for the position. This officer is now serving as interim police chief.
- The changing of the city personnel manual to directly challenge the Mayors power to hire and fire employees under his control. One of these changes would have led to the Mayor no longer being able to replace the Chief of Police unless there was cause to replace him leading to possible future lawsuits against the city.
- Now we have this declared state of “fiscal emergency” which was used to pass an amendment using expedited “emergency” measures to restrict the spending of the Mayor and his staff.
This City Council has declared war on the recently elected Mayor, the Mayor that was elected by a wide majority of the people in this city.
Remember, this is the same council, with 2 exceptions, that brought us the one way street downtown that no one wanted and the subsequent destruction of Native American graves that cost our city millions of dollars both to the taxpayers and the downtown merchants. Their track record speaks for itself… our current Mayor was one of the only Council members that actively fought against the one way street fiasco and his judgement at that time was amazingly correct.
We need a City Council that will work with our Mayor, this City Council does not have a track record that gives confidence to the citizens of Oak Harbor and if they do not stop the incessant attacks they need to be individually replaced at the next possible election.