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Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Follow the Money Part 1


                                 WHERE IS YOUR MONEY GOING?


   Note:  this is a re-print.   Updated information on the mayors large pay raises is included below after the article on that topic.  See "NEW FACTS" below.
         
                     
Mayor Deckard profits from sale of city assets      PLUS
Mayor Deckard’s pay raises

In the fall of 2012, the honorable mayor Phil Deckard, granted himself a no-bid contract to be the auctioneer to sell surplus city assets.   Speaking in true altruistic mode, the mayor, an auctioneer himself and owner of PHIL DECKARD & ASSOCIATES REAL ESTATE & AUCTIONEERING (Auctioneer ID # 7558) said that he would perform the auction for his “cost”.   For unknown reasons, no competitive bids were taken for the job of auctioning $86, 407.50 of city property.  Assets included older vehicles, playground equipment, and other items no longer needed.   On September 15, 2012, the auction took place.  Coincidentally, another local government official, Kim Merideth, the Morgan County, Washington Township Board Chair, cashed in on this scheme also by clerking for the mayor during this event.  



Kim Merideth , Deckard's auction clerk


THE NUMBERS     $324.04 per hour earned by Deckard?

Although the mayor said that he would do the auction for his “cost”, his definition of cost is troubling.  According to official documents obtained from the Martinsville city clerk’s office through the Indiana Public Access Laws, the mayor charged his own city $3,466.01 for a days’ work.  After advertising expenses of $583.78 and labor expenses of $290.00, the mayor’s net profit was $2,592.23.   Assuming 8 hours of auctioneering, Deckard took home $324.04 per hour.   Not bad!    

According to the invoice (see below) submitted by Deckard to the city, his true cash expenses were only $873.78, not the $3,466.01 that he did in fact charge the city.    As mayor, Deckard said he would do the job for his cost.  Instead, he did it for his cost PLUS an unspecified overhead fee of 3% fee applied to every dollar that was sold.   It would have been preferable and looked better to the public if he had invoiced the city for his verifiable cost of $873.78.  Also, this job should have been competitively bid to avoid all appearances of impropriety.   As it stands now, there are many questions and rumors that remain unanswered regarding this auction and city procurement processes. Awarding contracts behind the curtain of the mayors office is just bad politics and worse policy.
    
Deckard's auction invoice to the city



                                    
          
THE MAYORS WAGES

The following data was provided by the Martinsville Clerk Treasurer's office:  

                Deckard's   Change from
Year           Pay             prior year
2010      $49,232              
2011      $54,970               +11.7
2012      $60,000               +9.2%

If we add in the amount that Deckard made at the city auction in 2012, his true pay is:

2012     $62,592               +13.9%

Between 2010 and 2012, the mayor’s salary increased 27.1%


                                    Martinsville Mayor (red)           Beech Grove Mayor (black)



As a comparison, the mayor of Beech Grove, Indiana makes $52,450 per year and their council persons make about 1/2 what ours do.  

So, are they the public servants or are we the public servants? You Decide. 


ANALYSIS

At the city council meeting LAST FALL concerning pay raises for 2013, the mayor proudly proclaimed that “in order to set a good example, no elected officials should get a pay raise for 2013”.   This was easy for him to say since he already had just gotten 2 huge raises.  The council did however, vote to give all city employees a fair and reasonable 2% raise.  Since 2010, the mayor fared far better than 2% per year.  Over 2 years his wages increased 27.1%.     

Mayor Deckard took advantage of struggling taxpayers in a bad economy.  He schemes a 27.1% raise over 2 years while you struggle to keep your job let alone get a decent raise.   Martinsville property taxes are going up, unemployment is at a near all-time high, welfare and food stamp usage is skyrocketing, our home assessments have risen, the water and sewer bills are increasing, food prices are jumping, the taxpayers are suffering, yet the Martinsville mayor is exempt from economic reality when it comes to his pay.   Why?  Because he probably needed to "up" his retirement pension which in part is based upon his final salary.     



Deckard's side business...auction and real estate






NEW FACTS    (March 2013)

It has been brought to my attention that the city council has been looking to "upgrade" the talent that this town has drawn into the mayoral arena.  The good old boy musical chairs game in the mayors office must change.   

I was informed by a former council member that they felt that if the mayors wages were higher and more equivalent to bigger towns in the area, then we could draw a higher level of talent to the mayoral pool and perhaps one that needed a side business to support themselves.  The theory being that the next mayor would actually spend most of their time running and improving the city and not being distracted by other personal interests.

This is a great idea.  However, if we want to draw better talent next time around, why did the city council give the present mayor and not a future mayor two very large raises?   That just served to bump up his pension!  Why did they not wait until Deckard's term expired and pass a new salary law before the election?  That would have accomplished their intent.  Instead, the old city council just rewarded someone who they claim they want "upgraded".   I don't get it.   The timing of these pay raises is suspicious.  What do you think?    



                                Unfortunately, most folks think this of Martinsville Politics







WHAT CAN YOU DO?

City taxpayers, you voted him in, yet you "no-show" when it comes to participating in your own government.   The city council meetings are barely attended by the public.  You then roll your eyes and wonder why government seems to only serve those who are in government.   If you ignore your government officials and let them do what they want, they will TAKE from you what they want.  Just look at annexation and the mayors’ pay raises.  Proof enough?  The Martinsville city clowncil also voted for both of these pay raises.   Fortunately, the citizens got smart and elected some new council members that will not be puppets for the mayor.   Taxpayer involvement in government would prevent this.  

In addition to citizen involvement in their local government, the solution to this problem is to make the mayors’ job a part time position as it truly is.   Plainfield IN has a city manager, not a mayor.  Why can’t we?   Why does the Martinsville mayor have to be a full time position?  Seriously, how much can be happening here in Martinsville that requires a full time mayor?  Besides, if being a mayor were truly a full time job, then the mayor would not have the time to own, maintain, run, and manage his personal real estate and auction business, as he does now.  The city council is part time, why not the mayor?  Why not? Why not now?


There’s politicians, and then there are the rest of us.

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