I’m excited for the future of Collegedale. We have a great location for commuters, hundreds of acres for outdoor recreation, and a diverse group of residents and college students who all call our city home. But we face challenges that could impact the ability for everyone to afford to live here in the future.
The need for change on Collegedale’s City Commission couldn’t be more urgent. Our incumbents have approved ever-increasing budgets. Our city’s budget has grown from $7.1 million to $11.5 million since they have held office, culminating in a 31 percent property tax increase that was imposed with no warning on our city’s residents and businesses.
But even this hasn’t been enough to satisfy the city, which has overspent these budgets by $5.4 million in the past seven fiscal years.
Left unchecked, we will see spending continue to increase, along with more increases in property taxes. These increases will drive up the cost of owning a home, or renting an apartment. They cost our business owners money too, as they pay these same taxes every year. There was already talk last year about, after reassessments are complete, not adopting a rollback rate, but maintaining the current rate – which is a tax increase by another name.
In the budget presentation for this year, City Manager Ted Rogers said “our mantra this year is to simply delay…” and that is an apt statement for the city’s habit of ignoring the infrastructure needs, especially street maintenance and resurfacing. For the last six audited budgets, the city budgeted almost $2.6 million to capital streets projects, but spent less than half of that amount. Instead, capital spending for the police department was almost $1 million over budget. We need a long-range capital spending plan to project the needs of the city several years ahead, and then we need to adhere to these plans to keep these projects on track. Our problem isn’t a lack of funding, it’s the priorities our city leaders have chosen, and their inability to follow a budget.
I have been a municipal employee for a decade now. I’m familiar with budgeting, capital projects, and long-range planning. Given the willpower, we can tackle these problems and, four years from now, be in a much better position going forward.
My wife, Tonya, is Collegedale’s municipal court clerk. She and I both feel that the need for change in Collegedale is critical – so much so, that even with the knowledge that she will lose her job should I be elected to the Commission, we decided together that I should press onward and run for office. I would challenge you to find a candidate who is more committed to the cause than I.
On Nov. 3, or sooner should you choose to vote early, I ask for your vote and look forward to serving the people of Collegedale.