By Councilman Troy McDougal
Once the votes are tallied and city officers sworn in, your vote turns into action when the elected officials meet to plan what projects will be done, how they will be funded, and their prioritization. This is done through a long-term strategic plan, annual and monthly planning sessions, and most importantly the annual budget meetings which determine which projects will be funded.
A large majority of funds collected by fees and sales taxes are allocated to maintenance of existing services such as culinary water, stormwater, roads, etc. Under the direction of a City Manager, the city hires competent, full-time professionals to oversee and maintain these services year over year. Larger projects or upgrades to city services require long-term planning and budgeting, as not all can be done without raising taxes or accruing increased debt. The limitation of funds and personnel requires large projects throughout the city to be prioritized according to overall city needs. Often, the city will focus on a major project in one area of the city, while planning another major project in another area for the following year.
I have often heard citizens complain about city staff running their own agenda or controlling what gets done in the city. This is a misplaced and often unfair attack. City staff operate under the budget and direction they receive from elected officials. Due to their expertise and daily management of service, they will be consulted in future planning, but the final decision to do something is held by the City Council through direct project approval and the budget process.
You will often hear elected officials praise the work of city staff, this is because we see firsthand how they are taking elected official direction and turning it into action, often at a great savings to our citizens. Just one of many examples is our Finance Department who oversee the spending of your tax dollars, they recently received the Certificate of Achievement for Excellence in Financial Reporting, for fiscal management of citizen tax dollars. Making sure your tax dollars are being used prudently and as they say, “Getting the most bang for your buck.”
When residents need a specific service or have questions regarding a service or process, city staff are ready and able to assist them. When citizens have concerns regarding services or projects, they can always reach out to their elected officials to better understand the financing and prioritizing of those projects and to assist them with potential solutions.
Let your vote be transferred into action by communicating with your elected officials, they can then review your concern in the context of planning and budgeting, and you will have a better chance of a successful outcome.