‘Flaccid fountain’ should become a ‘taxpayer bowl’ of affordable flowers

Published 5:04 am Friday, January 31, 2020


Contributing columnist

How important is the fountain in Weisiger Park? Is it more important than first responders and/or safe lighting on Main Street?

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Those are the two questions I’ve seen and heard since this week’s city commission meeting. I haven’t polled the commission, but I hope all five commissioners would agree that most things are more important than the Flaccid Fountain.

It would seem that $100,000 of taxpayer money should go directly toward projects that directly benefit taxpayers, like retaining experienced first responders and keeping those same taxpayers safe when they attempt the Third and Main Dash.

Here’s the rub: The streetscape and beautification projects (lights and fountain) can be funded with grants. Grants take time to research, write and wait for notification. Additionally, most large grants require a guarantee of matching funds. If the city were able to get a grant for Flaccid Fountain, a certain percentage would likely have to be paid with taxpayer money from the General Fund.

What if — and I’m just spitballing here — what if the city converted Flaccid Fountain into a large planter with lots of beautiful flowers and plants? I’ve seen such in other cities. Surely it would cost less than $100,000. Use the hypothetical $100,000 to fix the lights on Main Street and use the rest as a one-time bonus for our first responders.

The planter would be a symbol of the city’s commitment to the taxpayer. We could call it the Taxpayer Bowl. (Insert appropriate emoji here.)

In all seriousness, the fountain has been a symbol of governmental projects gone wrong. Let’s cut our losses on this project and move on.

We have a serious problem with retention of our first responders. I proposed last year that we cut the outlay of city funds to local organizations and put all of that money toward first-responder salaries. The annual appropriation of funds to organizations began back in the heyday of high yield on investments and loads of grant money to pay for many, many things. Those days are gone.

Maybe the new city manager, David Milliron, will look at this allocation with new eyes and come up with a solution that is palatable for all involved. Maybe Milliron will look at the entire budget and see how we can solve some of the problems that keep popping up.

If nothing else, I’d love to see Flaccid Fountain become the Taxpayer Bowl. Call city hall and email the commissioners with your thoughts.


Magistrates off-base on water bills


Good grief. Tom Ellis, what are you thinking? For all of the complaints you had with the parks agreement and the supposed weeks of work you committed to the ridiculous Second Amendment resolution, one would think you’d do some research on the water bill issues BEFORE bringing it up at a fiscal court meeting.

And Jason Cullen, how irresponsible of you to say that you heard at a city commission meeting that the city gets the majority of its revenue from water and sewage without giving the rest of the detail on that point. As I watched the auditor’s report from the commission meeting, I discovered a couple of critical details left out of Cullen’s comment.

The majority of Danville’s revenue comes from business taxes like net profit and payroll taxes. This revenue goes into the General Fund and can be spent on city-related business without restriction as I mentioned earlier.

Here’s the important detail Cullen left out: Yes, water and sewage fees make up the majority of the revenue in the Enterprise or restricted use funds. These funds can only be spent on water and sewage expenses, such as salaries for the people who keep our water flowing, repair the lines and run the equipment. It can be spent on equipment, parts, etc. It cannot be spent on a fountain or lights for Main Street in Danville, Junction or Perryville.

AND if one does a quick calculation, one will discover that more funds were spent than brought in, to the tune of $141,864 according to the auditor’s presentation.

Additionally, there is likely a written agreement between the cities of Danville, Junction City and Perryville that explains the work to completed, the cost, and a payment agreement for the work. So maybe start there. Look at who signed the agreements. Talk to them. Ask questions before making accusations. I bet that’s the first thing the state attorney general will do if the office does agree to take on the request.

Can we not show some integrity, local public officials? Stop with pandering and start doing your research. It’s just not that hard.

Mr. Ellis, bring the AG’s attention to the water bill situation. If something is wrong, let’s get it corrected. But please do your research before making unfounded claims.