Millage up 18% in three years

Group discusses remedy

to problems at City Hall.

An EDITORIAL

A few days ago – not long after the newspaper announced the Grenada Mayor/Council’s third straight tax raise in three years – a few Grenada leaders chatted over refreshments.

Three items topped the agenda at the table.

First to gain attention of the group, was the 9.65 mill increase in city taxes in three years – almost 20% — 18.71% to be exact.

This does not take into account the “automatic” increase triggered by routine property reappraisals mandated by the state. (Millage detail: In 2015 the city council raised the millage from 51.44 to 55.19; in 2016 from 55.19 to 57.19; and on Aug. 29, 2017, the council voted to raise the millage to 61.19.)

The second item on the agenda was the financial disarray fathered by this city council and mayor. There has been significant effort (and expense) put forth lately to bring the city in compliance with perhaps the most fundamental of state financial rules – a timely audit.

On July 28, 2017, the city released the audit for the fiscal year ending Sept. 30, 2015. It was due on Oct. 1, 2016, according to state law. The audit for FYE Sept. 15, 2016, is due no later than Oct. 1, 2017, according to state law.

The 2015 audit, the newest we have, found no less than eight “Significant Deficiencies or Material Weaknesses.” These ranged from lack of depreciation schedules to “numerous errors in account balances and transaction postings in the City’s general ledger,” to “failing to monitor revenues and expenses,” to “insurance billing not reconciled to payroll deductions.” (This newspaper will have a more detailed study of the FYE 2015 City Audit, in future editions. We will also examine the FYE 2016 audit when it is released. Hopefully, it will be complete by the state mandated deadline of Oct. 1.)

The third item discussed by the “Table Seven” group was what can be done about the leadership quality of the Mayor and Council.

Some believe that new City Manager Trey Baker has a handle on the situation and is slowly turning the ship around. He was not here during the period covered by the FYE 2015 audit, or the FYE 2016 audit, for that matter. He became city manager Nov. 14, 2016.

Others believe that the Mayor/Council will not give the city manager the authority to make the personnel and procedural changes necessary to right the city’s financial ship.

The small group of leaders who met recently believes the only practical answer is to replace a couple of members of the Mayor/Council.

One or two members of the Council are invulnerable, but there was a consensus that at least two members of the group can be relatively easily defeated with the right candidates and good community effort.

No less than Grenada’s future is at stake, and time is running out.

(If you have any suggestions or comments, please e-mail them to Publisher@GrenadaStar.)