GARY PATULSKI: Questions actions of city administration

TO THE EDITOR:

Years of frivolous spending on nonessential items is once again forcing the city further in debt. The city now intends to issue bonds up to $25 million with a 40-year amortization to complete the sewer separation and eliminate overflows into Manistee Lake. This amount more than doubles the current total outstanding debt of the city.

Having failed to complete the required work in a 20-year period ending 2016, the State of Michigan has now initiated administrative action mandates on the city. The city is required to complete a study and submit a detailed plan to the state by summer 2018. The cost of the study is estimated at $1 million to $1.5 million.

The city is “hoping” residents will not petition the bond issuance for a vote because this would likely cause the city to be unable to meet the state’s deadline. Simply put, the city does not have the funds available to perform the study. The millions of dollars in subsidies the city spent on the Ramsdell and marina could have easily paid for the required study.

I encourage individuals to view the Aug. 22 special meeting video to witness the city’s dysfunctional city administration. When city administrators were asked by council members Lynda Beaton and Erin Pontiac about when they first became aware of the work costing up to $25 million, the city administration was either unable or unwilling to respond. This is a valid question because city administration recently completed a Capital Improvement Plan as part of the annual budgeting process indicating a cost estimate of $10 million to address the overflow situation. How did the cost more than double? Did city administration knowingly include incorrect data in the capital plan?

The city finance director states that the city can fund repayment of the new bonds with bridge loans and by not funding depreciation in the future. This statement translates to “not saving any money for future repairs.” Wasn’t the water and sewer rate structure supposed to ensure the city would have cash for future repairs?

When asked, “Why did the administration wait so long to inform the council about the increase in costs?” they stated that they didn’t know what was required until the state issued the new permit effective Jan. 1, 2017. But their reply is not logical considering the state already gave the city 20 years to complete the work, and the city knew it was to be completed by 2016.

As in the case of neglected streets and unfunded liability for city employee pensions, this is another example of how city management created financial disasters which our new council members are attempting to resolve.

When other communities are moving forward, Manistee will once again be paying for sins of the past. And if the current city administration gets its way, it will create more issues by not funding depreciation and deferring more known issues.

What else is city administration hiding from the city council and residents?

Gary Patulski

Manistee summer resident

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