May 11, 2019 11:38:44 PM
Oversight, public works and city finances
My first question is, why does the city need to hire a business to oversee it's operation? Why do we have department heads and then hire an outside firm to oversee the management hired to oversee the departments? That, as I have said before, is a lot of overseeing. On April 12, 2014, The Dispatch stated that J5 found $1 million in waste in the public works dept, 45 percent productivity. $90,000 well spent, but that was in 2014.
There is a ditch behind my home that runs the length of the block that has not been touched in 18-24 months. This is the main drainage in the neighborhood. I was asked by a public works department worker recently, "How is the ditch"? That was two weeks ago and ditches are still filled with trash and debris and we have four public works men and a truck riding the roads. Whatever J5 did in 2014 didn't work.
Then we have the monies paid in fees for infrastructure: Trotter, City Hall, amphitheater, storm cleanup and other projects. I can't see the results the city council does.
The strange thing is, the lack of transparency of J5. No one knows how much the city has paid them. I guess someone can use the "freedom of information act" to get the figures. J5 has had tax problems and no one in the city government is questioning it. Pay your employees and not pay your taxes is great if you can get away with it. I am disappointed in some council members responses. Same goes for the city finances.
I hate to be the bearer of bad news but, a tax increase is on the horizon. You can't continue to spend money you don't have.
We have a spending freeze, but we hire summer workers to staff the summer programs in the parks. Can we not ask for volunteers? Thank you, councilman Gavin for standing up for our police department.
Then the council approves several thousand dollars to train the new CFO. Why was Mr. Crowder not asked to help? His rate was a lot less than the firm hired and he was already working on the finances.
No financial reports have been given since March. It's the public's business; it's the taxpayers money spent.
Infrastructure has been neglected too long. Plenty of flowers planted, $100,000 spent to tell us we need better lighting, J5 hired to oversee the overseeing.
Folks, we need to wake up and demand accountability and transparency or Columbus will continue to decline economically. This is my town and I want it back. Every time I write a letter, I hear from many people, how they agree with me. Please let your opinion be known too. Write to the paper, attend a council meeting, get on the agenda, speak your mind, get involved. Let's take Columbus back, demand accountability and transparency.
Pray for Columbus and God bless America.
Lee Roy Lollar
Editor's note: On March 12, The Dispatch requested from the city via email to public information officer Joe Dillon an accounting of all monies paid to J5 and Neel-Schaffer for FY2018 and FY2019. We repeated this request via email to city attorney Jeff Turnage on April 8. On April 18, we submitted the same request to Turnage on the city's public records request form. Turnage replied later that day, saying the lack of a CFO made getting financial information difficult. The requested information still has not been provided. Mississippi's open records laws give a public body seven working days to provide records or an explanation for a delay; however, the delay cannot exceed 14 working days from the date of the original request.
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