Letter: Thanks for the Updates

At the regular council meeting on Feb. 12, Chairman Pauley invited citizens to email Clerk to Council Kim Roberts with any items they’d like included on a future agenda. I want to thank Chairman Pauley for including several of those requested items in the Feb. 26 agenda. I heard more updates on several key issues in that meeting than any other prior meeting, including broadband access, the wastewater treatment plant, and the IRS penalties. Thank you for listening and responding!

While interim Administrator Clay Killian addressed the actions being taken to challenge the IRS fines, we still have not heard what the problem was that caused the violations for six years, from tax years 2017 through 2022. Please address the “why this happened” question at the next council meeting.

Regarding the broader challenges facing Fairfield County, the draft of the 10-year Comprehensive Plan, again, is a huge list of should-do’s. One speaker, Randy Bright, correctly stated that this Plan alone is not sufficient; we need an implementation plan to link the Comprehensive Plan wish list to an actionable plan. This should start with priorities. What are the County’s highest priorities? Funding the ongoing operations required of a government would certainly be a top priority. I suggest the next highest priority should be the safety and health of our citizens, which would put the focus on the sheriff’s department, fire safety and EMS. It is crucial to set clear priorities so the limited funds available can be wisely spent where it will make the biggest impact.

And that brings me to my next point; the county’s budget setting process, which will begin soon.

Last year’s budget meeting was, in my opinion, useless. Department directors presented to Council their current budget, and the budget they were requesting for next year. There was almost zero challenges from the Council members in attendance, which wasn’t all seven. Furthermore, there was zero discussion as to what any department had spent against that current year’s budget, and whether they were on, under or over budget. There was zero discussion or challenge on where they could reduce costs, and very little discussion about justifiable cost increases. For a county with so many wish list items, we need to find as much money within our budget as possible to fund as many important initiatives as possible. I challenge our current Council to use this year’s budget process to find that money, and make sure we spend that money on the county’s highest priorities.

Don Goldbach

Candidate, Fairfield County Dist. 2

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