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home : opinion : opinion April 29, 2016

12/16/2012 6:00:00 AM
Guest Column: Is our Kingman government profiteering?
Dean Wolslagel
Kingman Resident

At a recent city council meeting in Kingman, I noticed a very odd thing - the city manager is not managing the city to the benefit of the whole community. It is also very clear our City Council is not fully appreciating its role as the overseer of the city administration and the public treasury. Council member Watson stated recently the city "cannot profit in its operations," but the city does in fact make a profit on many of its services.

For example, the city is running a surplus in the new, extremely unfair wastewater rates as the funds coming in have created a million-dollar-plus surplus, evidently. The term "surplus" to any reasonable businessperson, or for that matter anyone, is excess over costs, which is a profit!

The water department is the cash cow that is funding other departments such as engineering. Does 100 percent of engineering department do 100 percent water related work? Two million dollars per year is funding engineering directly out of the water fund, so water funds are actually paying for city streets and other costs? Do county residents who account for 40 percent of the water customers have to pay for city streets etc.? The unfairness of the city rate structure on the poorest section of our community is absolutely wrong and very unjust.

According to Mayor Salem at a recent meeting, county residents pay 70 percent more for water. Why? Because, he said, "they don't pay other city taxes." What? Give me a break! It's clear they are not getting better water and they even have fewer fire hydrants than city residents, and that is a real issue. Just ask the fire chiefs if they need fire hydrants!

Is the city taking from the poor to give to the better off in the city? I did a state audit of the water system a few years ago. I found that the city was declaring expenses of over $8 million for the water department with income over $8 million, but in fact the city water operations (with labor and materials) was only about $4.3 million per year. That my friends is a huge issue! Any private business would love that 100 percent margin of profit!

The city manager has spent zero time looking at ways of not raising sewer rates. He simply is trying to do the easy thing and just raise taxes. What is going on here? Are we stupid? Why is only one council member (Anderson) trying to look at alternatives to raising taxes?

The manager is a very close friend of many council members evidently, and that seems to cloud the situation, but to my thinking when you pay someone $140,000 per year they better do something for that paycheck! It's clear the easy way out for many council members is to vote 'yes' on anything the staff recommends without question.

The lone councilman who is asking questions (Mr. Anderson) has been very good about this for the betterment of all the community and he is now doing the job the manager should be doing. Yes, the city is clearly profiting and yes the council is weak in its efforts to protect the community from outrageous tax increases. It's time we vote out any one on the council who does not understand a surplus is profit!

Treating some citizens differently that others in its taxes or rates could be a legal issue brought against the government under discrimination laws. We sure don't need any more legal cases brought against the city right now!

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Reader Comments

Posted: Wednesday, December 19, 2012
Article comment by: Same Reason

@ janice palmer

Just by reading your own response confirms what I had already knew. You show a lack of education (BAD Writing Abilities) and a lack of respect. You didn't address the reason you had left your signs up, it's almost like you don't care or are ignoring it. This is going to be the same reason you won't get elected next time also. Your just full of "deception"!

Posted: Tuesday, December 18, 2012
Article comment by: janice palmer

well, i knew sooner or later some of the voters would come to the realism i already knew. i explained a lot of it when i ran for the city council, but alas, the voters put their heads in the sand, and voted for the dumb old boys again. we got the salem dont inhalem, the give me a burger on monday and i'll give you 2 on tuesday..wimpyburger. and carole kiss my grits young. then the county supervisors wife...janet..im in a monopoly ..watson. well you get the pic. right? the only ones who seem to be in the honest row are erin cockran and richard anderson. hmmm the minority unforunately. well, maybe the next election.....ya think? wise up voters of kingman. before they have you so far in debt you can breath. remember, you can't fix stupid. all you can do is replace them.....janice

Posted: Tuesday, December 18, 2012
Article comment by: Thai Mai Shue

Maybe I should have paid more attention in my business economics class.

In running a business under the umbrella of a single entity with more than one department, all the revenue is shared among all the departments.

No single department is responsible for its own expenses as that would cause many to fail and few to prosper.

You wouldn't expect the ethnic food aisle at Safeway to pay the way for the butcher dept, nor can you expect the departments within the city to be self sufficient. The larger, more profitable department must share the wealth.

Dean, it seems to me your business aptitude is lacking.

Posted: Tuesday, December 18, 2012
Article comment by: Dig Deeper

@ Vengence is quite clear - Why aren't the funds being held to pay on the loan when due at the end earmarked (labelled) as such instead of "contingency" funds? My understanding is that 'contingency' funds are dipped into for necessary expenditures that are unanticipated during the planning for the next budget year.

@ Robert Griffin III - You seem to be unaware that there have been plenty of people terminated from local government employment for less than 'above-board' reasons.

Posted: Monday, December 17, 2012
Article comment by: Vengance is quite clear

You clearly do not understand the budget process nor the way funds are allocated or you would understand there is no surplus. Any funds that are set aside and being in "contingency" are funds that are being saved to pay on the loan when due at the end of the year and keep the City in compliance with the contract. Your aggressive and unbending attitude will not solve the problem. Can you answer Mr Griffn's question? I commend Mr Anderson for bringing up alternatives, but according to the finance director and watching the video, there is no legal or ethical way to put forth his suggestions. So if the so called surplus is sitting to pay loan and alternatives have been depleted, what is your solution?

Posted: Monday, December 17, 2012
Article comment by: Robert Griffin III

Explain to us again why you were fired from the City of Kingman?

Posted: Sunday, December 16, 2012
Article comment by: Thank You

Thank you, Dean. I'm sure some will call you a radical. Some will call you a rabble rosser. Some will call you a trouble maker. And I'm sure some will call you nuts. I call you a brave man to ask the questions some of us don't know to ask, to demand accountability, and to use your expertise in these matters to question action of our leaders. Keep up the great work.

Posted: Sunday, December 16, 2012
Article comment by: You Think!

The council are ignorant to think that we as citizens are unaware of the corruption they have in that front office. Nobody is held accountable for wasteful spending!

Posted: Sunday, December 16, 2012
Article comment by: anonymous anonymous

Taxes, Fees are both the same just the right wing likes to perpetuate the myth they are against taxes, but they often raise fees with gusto, this county is republican dominated, so any issues with taxes, fees etc., is laid at the feet of the domiant party!

Posted: Sunday, December 16, 2012
Article comment by: Fess Up

TO THE CITY MANAGER: What do you plan to do with ALL the surplus you collect from the water/sewer payments from residents? Give us a detailed report.

TO CITY COUNCIL MEMBERS: Are you looking for answers on your own for ways to pay for our treatment plants? or are you just lazily accepting what you are told by City personnel? Maybe you would get busy if all the pay back burden was shifted to YOU?

Posted: Sunday, December 16, 2012
Article comment by: Rick O'Shea

Well, in my opinion as I have stated before, the mayor and Kingman city council need to be investigated by the state for malfeasance or incompetence. I laugh when I hear someone say "this is supposed to be the last raise, well what will you do when instead of a sewer hike you will get a water rate increase? Don't forget, this was Salem's idea to put the entire burden of paying off the new plant solely on the backs of the customers instead of getting a bond. I do wonder however why two slush funds are being filled with some of the money and why the old plant is being kept online, something stinks in Kingman and it starts with Mayor Salem.

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