I led the drive to end the Belleville wheel tax and voted against the sales tax increase because I believed we should review the budget more in depth, such as 3 percent to 5 percent in non-personnel cuts.
Recent events prove my premise. Not only have we not looked for cuts, but we have found extra funds for parks, $200,000 for a Kroger-Ruler store and $159,000 for a non-appraised building. This is on top of $250,000 given to the library.
Public safety is the city's primary mission. The 3 percent to 5 percent in cuts could have voided the tax increase. It certainly proves the tax increase could add police to the streets. The extra TIF expenditures noted above should have been used to make the west end police branch functional, buy new police cars and modernize our police headquarters with new computer technology.
Mayor Mark Eckert says we cannot buy the technology until we upgrade the building. What have we been waiting for? I'll quote the mayor in reference to our Police Department: "We have had the Fire Department there because of smoke and hot wires."
We are failing to plan and prioritize the needs of the people. When the pool had to be closed, the administration told us we have known for seven years the pool's life would end. Yet the city did nothing to replace it. Are we going to wait to fight crime until the computers burn up and a 911 call cannot be answered?
Joseph W. Hayden
Alderman, Ward 5