IFA Concludes Board of Supervisors Either Don't Know or Don't Care
DAVENPORT, IA - OCTOBER 20, 2010: On Tuesday, two weeks to the day prior to the election, candidates for Scott County Supervisors, running on the Iowans For Accountability (IFA) ticket, along with members of the IFA Central Committee, hosted a news conference at the Downtown Davenport Public Library. (The video archive of this news conference is online at YouTube here.)
The public, as well as the media, were invited to attend and meet and question the candidates after the presentation.
The group outlined how and why IFA formed and was placed on the ballot in August of 2010, a first of its kind event in Scott County's history ? and potentially in Iowa's history.
IFA found that historically the Scott County Board of Supervisors have avoided scrutiny, surrendered authority and grown government.
IFA reported that over the last ten years population has grown 5% but annual taxes collected have ballooned 76% and expenditures have grown 59%, since 2000 to over $70M.
IFA also outlined how the Board of Supervisors justified creating the SECC911 consolidated emergency dispatching project as saving taxpayers $4.6M over 20 years. IFA compared and contrasted what taxpayers were told by the Board in 2007 with what the results have been in 2010. Such results include $28M in long term debt, a special levy not subject to caps on taxes and no ceiling on future indebtedness, and a 20% increase in property taxes.
IFA Chairman Michael Elliott stated that, "We are hopeful that voters will embrace the refreshing contrast to politics as usual with IFA. These three candidates have the skills and experience to be stewards for the county taxpayers. We want to see a change from rubber stamping proposals and spending. For decades now, this lack of engagement by the two-party status quo board members has put Scott County in the hole. We need leadership focused on lifting us out of it as opposed to digging us deeper into debt."
The candidates and attendees discussed the frustrations with the lack of consequences for such poor management of the county's resources. "If a local business or even a major corporation ran their business like this, heads would roll," said candidate John Riley, from Blue Grass. As an self-employed structural engineer, Riley has worked on dozens of municipal projects over the years and has experience keeping construction costs in balance.
The challenges and questions about the emergency communications equipment, including over 1400 $5,500 radios for a county with less than 500 employees, were brought up by candidate John Green, a heavy equipment operator, mechanic and contractor from Davenport. "I want to know more about where these radios are being deployed, who is using and not using them, and what are the details of the county's contract with Racom," Green said.
IFA central committee member and researcher Diane Holst stated it was her understanding that each radio came with a $28/month "tower fee" and that while the $28M in the 19 year bonds included amounts for service contracts, those were only good for 3-5 years and "those costs will eventually have to become part of ongoing operating expenses."
Co-chair of IFA, Mike Angelos stated, "That adds up to close to half a million dollars per year for those radio contracts."
LeClaire native and chief operating officer for his family's agribusiness, Jesse Anderson, also an IFA Supervisor candidate on the ballot, outlined his vision for a zero based budgeting policy moving forward. "If this SECC911 has such a mandate for spending that has been outsourced to a new taxing authority, and is going to cost us an additional $8M per year, then we need to find ways to cut expenses elsewhere. I'd like to see us get our expenses down to 2005 levels, that was the lowest level we have been at in the last ten years."
Anderson commented on a quarter million dollar SECC grant contingent provision for geothermal technology that was rescinded as the grant process took too long for construction efforts saying, "They took a gamble on our dollar and lost. They didn't get the grant they had hoped for and now we're stuck with the bill. This is why we need zero based budgeting; It's the fiscally responsible thing to do."
The IFA presentation also included ways an IFA led board of supervisors could protect taxpayers and create more transparent and accountable government. These dozen ideas were presented as a slide show and discussed at the news conference. ?
Some of the proposed measures include :
For more information on Iowans For Accountability visit www.ScottCountyIFA.com