This article was originally written during the 2019 campaign.
A few years ago, my wife and I were fortunate enough to take our two kids to Disney World. As much fun as we had, if you've ever been you can probably relate to the extreme cost for the average middle-class family.
I have great kids. They are well-behaved. They do well in school. What if my kids want to go to Disney again? I mean they really want to go. You could even argue that they deserve to go. Heck, my wife and I want to go again, too.
I guess it depends on a lot of things, but probably foremost is the question... can we afford it?
Being a good steward of taxpayer money sometimes means saying "no" even when presented with great ideas and noble causes. It means making tough calls, even when it's something we want. Because when we choose to live in a rural area, what most of us really want are low taxes.
Over the past few years I have taken a stand and voted against tens of thousands of dollars of unnecessary spending that affects our bottom line.
There are a few principles that have guided my spending decisions on the board:
- Is the expenditure necessary to promote the public welfare?
- Is the expenditure required at this time? Will the timing save or cost taxpayers money in the long run?
- Does the expenditure fall within our purview?
- Do we have the funds to sustain the expenditure from the appropriate fund?
All of these questions add up to: can we afford it?
Even if we have it today, there's no guarantee we'll have it for tomorrow. We should hold our government bodies to the same standard that we hold our businesses and personal checkbooks. That means that even when it's a great cause, even when we really want it, sometimes the answer still has to be "no".
While the township remains financially healthy, since joining the board I have expressed great concern over spending more than the township collects in our General Fund.
Exercising wisdom means we must make the elimination of deficit spending a priority. We have to recognize that an unforeseen event could quickly turn a healthy fund into an unhealthy one.
I am pleased to say after many years of spending deficits, last year Wayne Township ended the year with a surplus in the General Fund. The time to adjust unnecessary overspending is now, not down the road.
Sometimes the best answer isn't always the popular answer or the answer we want to hear. Recent chip-seal projects had many residents asking "why?". We would love to lay fresh asphalt on every road we have, but we also want to be wise with your tax dollars. The rough cost of 1 mile of chip-sealing? $10,000. The cost to re-pave that same mile? $100,000.
I asked one resident which she liked least: road levies or chip-sealing? Does that mean that those roads will always be chip-sealed? No, but it is one form of maintenance that can help us get the most life out of your roads (and therefore, get the most out of your tax dollars). Read more about why it makes sense to #KeepWayneTwpRural
In addition, voting to provide smart upgrades for our road department such as BEET-HEET® applicators for icy conditions has allowed the township to provide a more effective service at a lower cost to taxpayers. This past winter our road crews were able to use less material and make less passes for snow and ice removal, all while providing a superior level of service.
Common sense solutions such as energy aggregation helps save our residents thousands of dollars every year by leveraging our collective buying power. I was proud to help vote to approve these cost saving measures in 2016.
Recognizing the role that transparency plays in fiscal conservatism is also extremely important. Tools like the state treasurer's OhioCheckbook.com ensure that your tax dollars are being wisely spent in full view of the public. I've also lobbied the board to video record our meetings: among many other benefits, transparent governments are more careful with spending. Read more about my efforts to video record our public meetings
Whether it's pushing for competitive bids, seeking out grant money, asking for greater transparency, or making the tough-but-necessary decisions, you can rely on me to be a watchdog for your tax dollars.
Thank you for reading,