9In this weeks independent John Plowman tried to use “facts” to explain why he would like to raise your phone bill by more than $14.64/phone/year. (Seriously-he really want’s to do this!) Here is the article:Let’s look at a few of Mr. Plowman’s “facts”:
John Plowman further explained the need for the increase, which would raise the county’s 9-1-1 surcharge from $1.22 per month per phone line to $2.65 per month per telephone line. He said the combination of diminished use of land lines, the counties decreasing population, and increased operating and and equipment expenses have forced this move.
Let’s take these “facts” one at a time:
This is caused by diminished land line use. FALSE! This has NOTHING to do with diminished use as it applies to ALL phones including all of your cell phones. According to the CTIA, the Cellular Trade Industry Association:
- 90% of American homes have cell phones.
- 39% are wireless only.
- 16% are wireless mostly.
- As of 2011 there are more cell phones than people in this country.
Ask yourself. Do you have more phones, or less than you did 20 years ago? This definitely isn’t caused by less phones. Trying to blame landlines is a lame excuse.
This is caused by the counties decreasing population. Mostly FALSE! According to US Census Bureau the County’s population decreased by 2.4% between 2010 and 2014. By this logic our bills should be increasing by around 2.4 percent, right? WRONG! Plowman wants to increase it by Two Hundred and Seventeen Percent!!!
Increased operating and and equipment expenses have forced this move. TRUE! They totally just want to spend more of our money.
Everything that Mr. Plowman says may sound like a fact, but just remember the old adage:
Know how to tell politicians are lying?
Their lips are moving.
Until transparency is provided regarding:
- How current money is being spent
- How future money is going to be spent
- Who is going to monitor and audit this spending
- How the heck they can justify raising the your phone bill by more then $14 per phone
Just VOTE NO!
[Updated] On Friday, former Shiawassee County Administrator, T. J. Clark checked into the Lapeer County Jail where he will serve 30 days for “using public money for personal use, contrary to state law.”
The question is, will those who were in charge of his spending be held accountable? Has the county made changes to how they regulate the spending of “Special Revenue” funds to prevent appointed officials from writing blank checks for whatever they’d like? Has the County made any efforts to spending from these funds more transparent? I think you’ll find that the answer to all of these questions is “no”.
There are funds missing from this years budget that we voted to approve last year. The county is looking to more than double what we are paying for E911 charges on our cell phone bills, and yet all accounting of what these funds are being used for are hidden from residents. Look at page 18 (special revenue funds) of the 2016 adopted budget budget (page 21 of the pdf), then ask your commissioner these questions:
- Who approves how this money is spent?
- Are the same people who write the checks, also approving the spending?
- Who audits this spending?
- How can I see how my money is being spent?
- Are you taking taking back the county’s current contribution to these services and using it for something else?
- Who makes sure that my money is being spent wisely?
- What is the treasurers role in ensuring that our tax dollars are spent wisely? (Hint: He doesn’t have one.)
I don’t think you’re going to like the answers. When I asked last year, I didn’t like the answers.
I believe that T. J. is just the tip of the iceburg, and hope that our county makes changes to these special revenue funds to encourage transparency and checks and balances. Unfortunately doing this would open them up to a lot of well deserved scrutiny. As taxpayers we should know what every cent of our money is being spent on regardless of which fund it comes from.
I’ve contacted Hartmann Aue asking him for more visibility/transparency into these funds as well as for information on the “missing millage” and will update this post when I hear back.