downtown lights
Downtown Lights - Photo by Andrea Nay

The below correspondence was sent to the attention of all members of City Council by email on 9/2/2010

Members of Council… and Friends.

As council members you are tasked with the responsibility (unenviable at times) of making smart and sometimes difficult decisions.

I have heard the comments regarding the difficulty some have in spending electric funds on Christmas Lights this year and agree that it is a difficult decision with the general fund deficits. However, when looked at through the lens of rationality the electric fund is fully funded and “rich” enough to support their installation this year and for years to come. There is a reason why the electric fund has money for Christmas Lights, and it is not because we have been overcharging residents for electricity. (On the contrary, we enjoy the lowest electric rates in the State of Ohio)

It is because we have been fiscally responsible with those electric fund monies. The same is true with the other utility fund (water).

Now.. This leaves the General Fund an accounting category which is the bane of executive managers the world over. The fund where all discretionary and emergency funds are pulled from. The fund takes the wealth from all undirected and unpredictable fund sources (income taxes, fees, use taxes, permits, etc.) and this cache is pulled from to pay for all variable expenses such as salaries, capital expenditures, etc. Therefore, there is a direct impact on the City’s ability to pay for unplanned and increasingly expensive costs with a shrinking income base (less jobs + less business profits = less income tax).

I would consider the reduction or elimination of the Christmas Lights this year to be just as punitive (and petty) as threatening residents with reducing necessary public services such as police and fire. The City of Tipp City most definitely needs to “get a haircut” in many categories of expense, but reducing expenses in a liquid and well managed fund category is not the smart way to go. With the 5-year and 10-year Capital Improvements Plan and pending budget reviews, you all have the ability to figure out how to best fund the General Fund needs without pillaging or impacting the best things you have going for the City. Demand that your City Manager provide you with clear and immediate budgetary accounting that shows who is paid for what, where do the lines of income intersect with expense and an analysis of how our employee salaries compare to the public sector?  “Look under the rock whence ye are hewn”. – The Prophet Isaiah

Outside all of the sentimental comments you have received regarding the Christmas Lights, the downtown businesses have grown to depend on the lights creating a ripe shopping atmosphere that builds interest and sales in our downtown. Less sales downtown directly equates to less income going into the General Fund. Please don’t cut off your nose to spite your face. Keep the lights on Downtown.

Regards,

Mike McDermott
Downtown Resident and Business Owner

I discovered today that in addition to email correspondence like this, there is a petition signing campaign that has started to keep the Christmas lights on Downtown. The City Council meeting on September 20th when Council votes on the Christmas lights should prove to be very interesting… I highly recommend your attendance.