New Year Resolutions For Local Officials

Making resolutions is a tradition of the New Year’s holiday. Most organizations establish plan objectives in order to reach their goals. One example of an organizational objective is to reach a specified number of potential customers, clients, or audiences. Another might be to recruit a certain number of new members, clients, new readers, or new businesses. Still another objective might be to increase revenue by a targeted amount whether in the form of sales, membership dues, or taxes.

In the spirit of setting corporate goals, I propose two New Year resolutions that would improve the service of public officials to those who pay them their salaries and that might increase public respect of the same.

Resolution one. Treat Xenia taxpayers like stakeholders and investors. To accomplish this goal, the City will create and distribute to every taxpayer a corporate-like annual report that includes goals, accomplishments, new issues, and simplified financial statements.

Government exists to serve specific needs of the citizens who created it. Services needed by local citizens include police and judicial protection of property and person, facilitation of economic prosperity, education, sanitation, and the like. Like investors in for-profit business, taxpayers invest their hard-earned money into government. Taxpayers have a right to expect a return on their investment (ROI). It could even be said that they are obligated to demand measurable results. To achieve this reasonable demand, city officials could create and distribute an annual report as stated above. An annual report would provide taxpaying investors both with measured and comprehensive results of service achievement and with financial accountability by means of simplified financial statements.

Some people will like react negatively to this resolution because they believe the cost are not justified, That is, they believe the money would be better spent on paving streets, repairing equipment, or some other necessary expenditure. It must be admitted they are mostly right.

The city spends tens of thousands of dollars for each levy campaign to increase taxes. Yet, most local taxpayers have no real clue why the money is needed, whether the need is legitimate, how tax revenue is in a reserve fund, or whether some of that reserve could be used for a proposed levy. It is for these and similar reasons that an annual report widely distributed would provide all taxpayers will the necessary information to overcome such ignorance. In short, such an annual report would go along way in making Xenia taxpayer informed citizens–one of the more important requirements for good decision-making in a participatory democracy.

Resolution two. Honesty and transparency is the only public policy worthy of the public trust. Therefore, honesty and transparency in all public issues, ordinances, levies, and all other public matters will always be practiced. If it is found to be otherwise, any legal matter involved will be deemed null and void.

Not only are taxpayers not treated as investing stakeholders in their public institutions, but they are treated like consumers and dupes. The underlying view of citizens and taxpayers by officials is the old sales adage: “A sucker is born every day.” The mentality is if you are stupid enough to buy the lies and half-truths, you deserve what you get. What school officials gave South Hill residents and taxpayers in general was a royal snow job. Officials said that a soil study was conducted showing that the school was atop a high water table, which was the cause of a flooding problem in the basement of Spring Hill elementary school. Because of this, Spring Hill could not be rebuilt.

However, the official geological study also states that all of Xenia is on just as high a water table. In fact, the land Tecumseh is built on is even more prone to flooding than at the Spring Hill site. The fact is officials have no good reason not to rebuild Spring Hill on the same site. Certainly, Spring Hill has no greater land limitations than at Shawnee Elementary.

Any votes for public money schemes based on such misleading information should nullify those votes in favor of it.

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