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STEVE STEWART, Dana Point
Our City Council had an opportunity at their meeting on Dec. 5 to make a financially prudent decision with taxpayer interests in mind. Unfortunately, some members of our current Council seldom miss an opportunity to do the wrong thing with city funds. This time, three Council members—Muller, Viczorek and Wyatt—ignored the extensive Financial Review Committee (FRC) work on vehicle acquisition policy in favor of more expensive and wasteful city staff recommendations. In a second motion, all except Debra Lewis, voted to abdicate their policy setting responsibility on the matter, instead giving this authority solely to the City Manager.
Said City staff recommendations include leasing rather than buying all vehicles, including 14 that are only driven 5,000 miles annually and will be replaced after only five years in service. That is clearly not cost effective and the FRC did extensive work to prove it, only to be ignored by a majority of Council members.
Financial Review Committee members are city residents/taxpayers with extensive financial experience. Their analysis and advice could help bring an end to Dana Point’s longstanding pattern of bad financial decisions, such as the $20 million Lantern District street project, the Bridge to Nowhere and the multimillion-dollar Strands Gate debacle. These mistakes help to explain why our city is facing a projected $2 million structural deficit by 2021.
Council members, and City staff, owe residents the due care to listen to the citizens who sit on the FRC. The Council and staff need to show us they have learned lessons about efficient and effective spending. Judging by their Dec. 5 decision on vehicle policy, that is not happening and voters will have an opportunity to correct that problem in November 2018.