Commission should have nothing to hide

Parent Category: Editorials Written by Connie Echols Hits: 786

    This is a follow up on all the problems with getting public information concerning the Tourism Tax expenditures and commission appointments from city hall and also to commend our city council for insisting on the information and a new commission monitored by them, with the people serving according to all state statutes and city ordinances.

    It took two months alone for the most basic print out of information from the city—nothing organized by accounts with no year-end totals or organization making everything hard to find. Please call if you would like to see what was sent. What are they hiding? Everybody already knows the mayor’s wife works at both places.
    What city doesn’t keep a record of who and when people served on a commission ordered by the state to decide how a special tax is spent? Fourteen pages of itemized $15 checks written to one person. All others written under cash claiming not allowed to disclose. Not true.
    I did find that a person received over $15,000 for work not done at all or done poorly in the past five years, which was basically wasted. No amounts were listed paid to collector out of tax at all. Why? Paying 10 percent instead of six percent per state law maybe?
    The Crawford County Museum, a pet-project attraction, was paid over $240,000 since 2003. State statutes and city ordinances all clearly state money is to promote tourism, not to fund labor expense for individual attractions for example the library, murals, museums and historic districts, but to promote them by bringing people to Cuba.
    There was nothing in the mixed pile of city ordinances and changes made to them, that were sent, that allowed the mayor, city collector, or city clerk to be involved in the tourism commission decisions, let alone in complete control of these tax dollars and expenditures.
    The most disturbing thing of all was five-years’ worth of unofficial minutes included, meaning they were not complete, not read and approved at the next official meeting, taken by the city clerk from notes after the fact—maybe why it took so long to get. Eighteen months of this I witnessed and questions being ignored and months are on tape. A councilman is to be present at all meetings, which none were.
    The mayor appointed the city collector to run the Visitors Center also, where there were no city records of cash sales or sales tax paid. The city attorney’s objection in a letter were ignored along with commission vote. Items still being sold without collecting tax. Really!
    Would anyone else like a four percent tax (added to a 9.35 percent sales tax) placed on your business and three others in a town this size and then see it being wasted and misused to say the least?
    Please take an interest in your city government. Question what else is going on that doesn’t seem quite right and you can’t get any information on.
Connie Echols
Wagon Wheel