I am a citizen and business owner living in Apalachicola. I am also a Christian. I say this because faith in the Lord was brought into the city meeting on Sept. 25. I serve a Lord who tells me to be a good steward of what He has given me. My husband and I work hard to pay for our life in Apalachicola. Many times we have made mistakes but hopefully not at the financial cost of others.
We live in a community that has been dealt a difficult pill to swallow. Sitting in a city budget meeting the other night, we were told that the increase in our electric, water and sewer, and the rise in the millage rate were OK because "The Lord would take care of it." This is actually what I heard out of the mouth of one of my commissioners: “I needed to relax and go home and it will all be OK.” So I went home and tried to work out how I could save and pay for these increases.
We businesses have to pay $95 per month no matter how much water each business uses, on top of a 13.5 percent water and sewer increase. Why? Because our mayor said the city chose to "defy" a loan through the state several years ago. That, by the way, is willful and intentional negligence. We now have accrued interest as well as a delinquent debt. But hey, on the upside, several people got up and thanked the mayor and commission for all their hard work. What does it matter if it was poor decisions being made, at the expense of the citizens? "They all worked real hard and got along so well and at least they tried." And yes all of the commissioners and the mayor reminded us that "they could easily pay their water bills." When asked if they would do it again, the mayor said in hindsight "no.”
You might ask whether the city used common sense four years ago. Well... no. Not really. But the good news is the mayor and a couple of the commissioners will donate $100 per month out of their own pockets so they can pat themselves on the back. Bless their hearts! ALL of the commissioners were on board with this decision at the meeting. Can we all sing "Kumbaya?”
We have a new city manager, thank goodness. We needed one years ago, but we were blessed with the other lady. I just hope he is able to do his job well. Looks like all of the special interest groups are being promoted and continue to be funded. What about the citizens?
I understand the mayor asked the CRA to pay $16,000 towards the manager's salary because, of course, all of our increases will not be able to cover it. I don't think it is legal, I don't know. That is not redevelopment , that is a city employee's salary. Is he going to work for the CRA as well? In order to receive that money, he must work for the CRA.
We deserve a city audit.
So here is how it plays out. Small businesses, elderly, and young families struggling will support the city and get us out of the mess they put us in. It will take over seven years. Who’s counting? The city won't fix the water quality. But wait... our lawyer says to me "They will fix it.” Oh, and I believed him. And all this time I thought the city didn't raise our water because they knew we couldn't drink it.
We need an audit.
Finally, I will offer some advice. Do not loan money to the city. They will "defy you" and we will pay. I have no respect for a mayor who uses his faith to hide behind. The Lord had nothing to do with these poor decisions. If you can't do the job (and you can't), step down for the sake of your citizens. Our city leaders have not been good stewards of much to have accrued such a debt. Businesses in Apalachicola, these increase will not go down.
I want an audit.