I don’t want the township to go bankrupt, I just want it to live within its means. Is that too much to ask? If you live in Springfield Township, you may remember getting a mailer like this one back in May, just days before the primary election… It’s true, I said it, however my words were taken out of context. First of all, I said it
sarcastically. Maybe it was a stupid thing to say. If nothing else this proves that I am not a polished politician. I’m just a normal guy, so yeah, something dumb came out of my mouth. Who hasn’t said something dumb before? Do I regret it? Not really. I said it to make a point. That point was, we’re not as bad off as our elected officials are saying we are. I knew then, just like I know now, bankruptcy is not necessary to fix our township’s problems. Fiscal responsibility is the answer to what ails us. We should always be striving to do more with less, to be as efficient as possible, to cut out any unnecessary spending before we ask the taxpayers for more money.
I live in the township, my business is here, my family is here. My fiancee’s six year old daughter goes to Brent Elementary in Finneytown. I care about the future of this community and I want to see it thrive. In order for that to happen, we need to take a hard look at some of the expenditures we are making, and clean up wasteful spending when we find it. When government gets too fat and bloated, it’s time to put it on a diet and lose some weight. Now that some of our funding has been cut from the state, I think it’s time to make some tough decisions.
“What would you cut,” you ask? Well, that’s a tricky question. It’s also pretty hard to answer without seeing the real numbers. We have copies of the township’s budgets for the last few years, but they are awfully vague. It’s hard to see exactly where the money is being spent. Everything is pretty general and there’s a lot of stuff that just says “other.” I know there is wasteful spending going on, especially when it comes to personnel and benefits.
For example, three of the members of the “Arts and Enrichment Council” are paid township employees. They do arts council stuff during business hours, rather than working on township business. The township pays for all of the promotional stuff for the non-profit group, printing, mailing, it’s all paid for by you, the taxpayer. Let me be clear by saying, I have no problem with an arts council operating within the township. Heck, you can even let them use the township facilities for their events for FREE. But why are we paying three township employees to run it? Surely we could get some volunteers to step up and do it, free of charge, if they really care about the arts… They could do some actual fund-raising, and use that money for all their promotional stuff. The arts council claims that their goal is to have arts in the community while using less tax payer dollars. How about no taxpayer dollars?
What about landscaping (parks) and snow removal? Why can’t this stuff be outsourced? Why do we have to pay someone full-time, plus benefits and pension, to mow grass and water flowers? I’ve had township officials claim that they can do it cheaper than a landscaping service. Boy would I like to see the numbers on that one. Just think of all the money we could save just in those two categories alone. Aside from the salaries and benefits, think about all the trucks and equipment. Those require maintenance (and an entire staff to maintain them, with more salaries, benefits and pensions). Having to buy new equipment all the time, it adds up and it gets very expensive. If we went with a contractor, we would pay a fixed fee, they would take care of all the maintenance, and since they are not employing government workers, they don’t have the pension liabilities that the township has. There is no union or collective bargaining to deal with. I don’t buy the argument about the township being able to do it cheaper. If that was the case, these landscape and snow removal services would not exist…period.
What about the rest of the administration staff? We have our administrator, who makes almost $140,000 per year to dream up more ways to tax you. He has an assistant that makes over $90,000 per year. They pay secretaries and personal assistants almost $50,000 per year. That’s more than most professions make after graduating from college with a 4-year degree. I guess I’m in the wrong business, maybe I should just go work for the government. After all, they have plenty of YOUR money to spend on inflated wages.
Let’s talk about shared services. Sure, the township does mutual aid within the fire/EMS departments, and we contract out an officer to work in Mt. Healthy from time to time for $45/hour. We also contract out our first responder services to Colerain Twp for the Pleasant Run Farms area… Why don’t we look at consolidation in other areas. Why not work more with the county on stuff? They have way more resources than we do. I’m sure there are some ways that our police department could collaborate with Hamilton County. Why do we need our own SWAT team, K-9 unit, etc? Doesn’t Hamilton County have a drug task force also? That brings me to my next point…
We added a third double-dipping employee today, a lieutenant in the police department has retired and was re-hired to lead DART, the multi-department drug task force. He will be receiving his pension, plus he will be paid $75,000 per year as a part-time contractor. I wish I could find part-time work for $75,000 per year. Not only that, since he will be working more than 30 hours a week, due to the Affordable Care Act (and the fact that the township has more than 50 employees) they are required by law to supply him with healthcare benefits. So, where they would normally argue that double-dipping is somehow “saving” taxpayer dollars, it’s not saving all that much. His salary now comes from a grant for the drug task force. That grant money is also taxpayer money, even if it doesn’t come out of the same fund.
We pay our part-time law director $112,500/year. She gets paid additionally for responding to public records requests. That seems like an awful lot of money for a part-time position. Our police chief and the director of the service department are both double-dipping, receiving their pension plus a salary. We’re have been paying for two assistant police chiefs for well over a year in anticipation that one of them will be promoted to chief once our current one decides to really retire. I am told that he will be leaving in the fall of 2015, so I’m not completely clear on why it was necessary to promote a second person to assistant police chief two years before that takes place.
It’s pretty astounding when you think about it. I’m sure this is just the tip of the iceberg.