Fiscal committee leaves sacred cows alone

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I appreciate the opportunity to explain the situation reported in last week’s (Sept. 8 News Messenger, front page, “Fiscal watchdog group loses first member”). I would like to explain my business background to illustrate my ability to help advise the city of Lincoln in its current financial problems. In the late 1960s and throughout the 1970s, I was a deputy sheriff/ coroner and a police officer. I worked patrol division but was also on a SWAT team. I also owned a police equipment company. I left law enforcement in 1980 and became Sonitrol Security Systems owner in Modesto. In 1980, my wife and I started a pool service and repair company that expanded to Fresno, Visalia and Las Vegas. The companies eventually had over 7,000 customers, the largest in the nation. We also owned a software company, a security-guard company and others. I purchased companies on the verge of bankruptcy to turn them profitable and sell them. At one time, we owned nine different companies. A few months ago, I contacted Richard Pearl, the fiscal sustainability committee chairman, and offered my services. He told me that FSC would “leave no stone unturned” and “there would be no sacred cows” in our investigation into city operations. Because it took so many hours to generate a simple accounting report for City Council, I thought my first task would be to check on Springbrook, the company providing software to our city. Since our city needs to save money, it seemed that the program could be replaced with a more cost-efficient one. As last week’s article indicates, I quickly found that there are, in fact, many “sacred cows” and that many stones will be unturned. At the Aug. 31 FSC meeting, Mayor Paul Joiner made it clear that the FSC is not allowed to examine the city’s operations. If the city refuses to find ways to curb its spending, the alternative to bankruptcy is to increase its income. Businesses increase income by raising prices. Cities increase income by raising taxes. Until our city proves to us that it is “lean and mean,” we cannot support any new tax increase. It was obvious that my efforts were not needed so I quit the FSC. I asked Anna Jatczak to have Springbrook bill me directly for my questions. CHUCK SCHMIDT, Lincoln