Video will be posted later this afternoon.
For now, here’s the news release from Liz Brown, Republican Mayoral candidate:
Fiscal Conservatism and Fiscal Responsibility Should be One in the Same
Being a “fiscal conservative” does not mean “never spending money”.
I want to address some misunderstandings, if you will, about what it means to be a fiscal conservative. Being a fiscal conservative, a label I would ascribe to myself, does not mean simply never spending money. As public servants, we are obligated to maintain certain levels for public services and to keep our citizens safe, which means providing not just good fire and police protection but also safe infrastructure. Accordingly, I firmly believe that being a fiscal conservative means being fiscally responsible. That means prioritizing spending, and spending money where it best serves the citizens.
Keeping in mind the idea of fiscal responsibility, I was alarmed 3 years ago when the county approached the city to say they had no money to cover their legal responsibility: the maintenance of all bridges in the county area, including the city. The county had a rainy day fund of about $ 7 million at the time. They had injudiciously stopped funding their bridge repair fund, and had diverted the money to pay for their justice system. So, the city was told it must find the funds to repair the bridges, to make sure that our citizens were protected. The county’s responsibility was dumped on the city. The next year, in 2009, the county again asked the city, and every other municipality in the county region, to agree to raise the wheel tax/surtax so that the county would have the funds to fulfill its legal obligation to maintain the safety of the 271 bridges in the county. That year, the county’s rainy day fund had increased to about $12 million. An option would have been to bond, they had the ability to do so, but they declined. So instead of the county obligating future revenue, or spending their rainy day fund, they asked for a tax increase.
Last year, the county’s rainy day fund had already achieved the envious balance of over $20 million, but when it was suggested at a county council meeting that, perhaps, some of this money should be returned to the taxpayers, the response was to spend it on new projects.
Every municipality has to prioritize its financial obligations, and certainly our citizens’ safety should come first. However, to grow a rainy day fund while neglecting legal obligations that put our citizens at risk, or to shift those obligations to other taxpayers by raising taxes – is not my definition of fiscal conservatism.
There are few things worse than tax-and-spend liberals, but one is a raise-taxes-and-don’t-spend conservative. Money is to be conserved in the hands of taxpayers when it’s not needed. And, in this case, when tax dollars are needed to keep taxpayers safe, they ought to be spent for that purpose. We would laugh at an individual trying to declare bankruptcy with millions in the bank. Why should we accept government shirking it’s responsibility to keep us safe with millions to spare?