Budgets: Jackson City Council Mayors / City Council Elections

Radio Announcer George B Scott initiated a challenge to all those running for the position of Mayor to provide to him a budget plan that would remove the debt load from the taxpayers. I am assuming that if they give him a satisfactory answer to his question he might endorse them for the position.

Considering that I had actually taken on this daunting project at one time for the city of Jackson as a city councilman, I can tell you it is no easy feat, but not impossible, to accomplish given enough time and resources. Once a plan is developed, the real difficulty is sticking with it.

 

The financial records that I collected go back to the early 90’s and ended in 2011 when I was not re-elected to the council. During that time the government of city of Jackson grew at a slightly faster pace than the local economy. But it’s debt load grew even faster.

Under Charles Farmer we discovered his love for new and shinny things in recreation and entertainment. A new city hall, Major League Baseball, and a passion for his own golf course and the creation of JEA and fiber optics. Some would say he was conservative as compared to Jerry Gist who took over the reins of the city when he couldn’t get the county to agree to his view of financial and political leadership as County Mayor. But in reality that is not true. Even the beloved Bob Conger instituted increased debt as mayor, former mayor Charles Farmer allowed it to grow exponentially, so much so that debt payments were becoming the largest item on the ticket. But Jerry Gist made it an art form. Spending money for votes made him very popular.

Debt load 2017

Proposed Debt Solution presented to Council in 2007

But I digress, I need to go back to the original question. What can a newly elected Mayor do to correct it?

  1. Start paying off the debt. In 2007, I had presented to council a debt payback plan, that if followed, the city of Jackson would have been debt free in nine years. It would require strict control for 5 years. Council ignored it.
  2. Crease creating more debt
  3. Freeze to no growth or Reduce employees by 10%.
  4. Move from a pension system to 401K savings. This was originally Randy Wallace’s thought in 2018, but was first brought up in 2007.
  5. Return Northwest annexation to 2007 area where possible.
  6. Cease Development outside the city boundaries.
  7. Cut Recreational spending by 20%
  8. Liquidate unneeded property assets, West Tennessee Health Care, lots, buildings, not specifically in use by city employees.
  9. Renegotiate the terms of Baseball*
  10. The implementation of these few suggestions may not solve it; why? Where I was looking a nine year debt free program, it would now have to be 20 years of dedication to the plan. I doubt that there is any politician with that resolve.

Cost of Baseball Alone

Frank Neudecker

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