Letter to the Editor
Four months have passed since the April election, in which three new council members were elected to help bring change to Marshall. The Move Marshall Forward organization worked hard to bring new faces to the City Council. MMF has done a phenomenal job bringing awareness to the plight of complacency and decay enveloping Marshall. During the July 18, 2016, city council meeting, Ms. Julie Schwetz represented the MMF organization and the citizens of Marshall when she asked for an update from the members of the city council. Her question was two-fold: 1. What is the plan for the money collected for improvements, and 2. How can MMF help?
Mayor Gooden replied that the money did not start coming in until June. The city has received $73,626 so far and that has gone into the General Fund to offset a $600,000 deficit.
Ladies and gentlemen, based on this information provided by the public record of the minutes of the July 18 council meeting, several questions arise in my mind. Did the agreement between the city and MMF allow for disbursement of collected funds to be used to offset the general deficit? If this was the agreement, how does reducing the deficit by approximately 12 percent improve the city? If this was not the agreement, by whose authority were the funds redirected away from an improvement program to a debt reduction plan? Either way, the best way to foster a positive feeling between citizenry and city government is to act appropriately and promptly. As Mayor Gooden stated, there's quite a lengthy process to address before demolition of a building can take place. The lengthy process becomes even longer and slower, however, if the funds allocated to start the process are rerouted to another agenda. By rerouting the funds, the council has effectively shown the public that other issues have greater importance than cleaning up and improving Marshall. Sadly, this action has several adverse effects. The citizenry once again gets the feeling that the council either doesn't care or just doesn't get it. The citizenry also subconsciously has less faith in MMF and their ability to bring positive change. MMF may also have less faith in future communication with members of the council regarding positive change.
And finally, what about the $600,000 debt? What action(s) or event(s) brought about this debt? When will governments of all levels understand the importance of operating within a fixed budget, like each of us must do on a daily basis? What outward, positive, transparent benefit is gained by redirecting the MMF funds to the general debt? Applying approximately $73,000.00 against an approximately $600,000 deficit is like pouring a pint of water into a gallon jug. Yes, there's something in there, but it's so little, it doesn't really matter.
Members of the council, Mayor Gooden, please listen to those you represent. It's been four months since the last election and we still don't see any real change. Show us what you can do.