Mayor Scott Nassif is like the kid who murders his parents and then begs the court for mercy because he’s an orphan. After a decade of fiscally-disastrous decisions and actions, he now pleads for a bail-out on the excuse that the Town is going broke (“Why Measure O is important for Apple Valley,” October 10, 2020). As usual, he is not telling you the full story.
Nassif says we need more deputies to ensure our safety. The biggest threat to our safety seems to be the Town Council. In 1988, Apple Valley had 41,000 citizens and six cops. Now, we have 74,000 residents but 10 times more cops. Politicians such as Nassif, who have been in office for years, should be held responsible for reducing our safety in the first place.
Likewise, Nassif says we need more parks. The Town closed Horsemen’s Center Park after 19 years because it couldn’t fix the well. In 2015, the Town closed Cramer Family Park. In 2016, the Town bought the Hilltop House, which remains closed to the public. We already have parks, but the Town has other priorities, such as the golf course, which has lost millions of dollars since the Town bought it in 2008.
In 2018, the annual audit revealed serious problems with Town finances, including over-spending and lack of reserves (again). Town Manager Doug Robertson promised 10% budget reductions across the board and a balanced budget. Instead of cuts, however, in 2019 the Town spent 10% more. To come up with the money, the Town got a $10 million “payday loan” against future tax revenues.
Nassif cites reduced staffing as proof of the Town’s sound fiscal mindset. In 2019 there were 220 staffers at $10,673,814 (est.). In 2018, 220 staffers cost us $9,780,875. That works out to $12 more per resident in 2019 than in 2018. The 2021 budget calls for 9.6% more compensation.
What’s more concerning are the numbers they don’t mention. How much of this tax is going toward the “payday loan” and other irresponsible debt? How much of this new tax is going toward propping up “skyrocketing public employee pension costs,” which Pat Orr identifies as the “driver” for this tax increase? How much of this new tax will join the millions already squandered on attorneys and litigation? How much of this is going to pay for “contract services,” which are budgeted to go up 3.6% next year after an 8.3% increase last year?
Apple Valley citizens also suffered during the recession of 2007-2016, and we are suffering again due to the panicked government and media responses to COVID-19. Now, Nassif wants to compound our suffering by having us indemnify a Town Council that can’t or won’t act responsibly.
You don’t cure an alcoholic by giving him more alcohol. Why would we give more taxpayer money to the Town, which has a pattern of misfeasance and malfeasance where money is concerned? Measure O is a big fat NO.
Greg Raven is Co-Chair of Apple Valley Citizens for Government Accountability, and is concerned about quality of life issues.