Hard decisions coming up related to city finances

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Mayor Litman

By Mayor Al Litman

Contrary to what you may have been told or read, Mesquite is not thriving financially.  We may be growing again in population, but not in our income stream.

As your mayor I need to be as upfront and honest as possible in what I have to say.  Hiding the truth for whatever reason comes back to bite you.

We have problems in Mesquite, not unlike many small cities that have experienced rapid growth followed by the recession.  We must do our best to solve these problems if we are to prosper and continue growing in a sensible way.  Ignoring the situation and passing it to another administration is wrong.

Mesquite provides its residents and guests with top-notch services; services that all of us have become used to. We have excellent parks and recreational facilities, a modern infrastructure that is well maintained and a feeling of security because of our dedicated police and fire departments.  These services come at a high cost, one that constantly goes up, rarely down.

The issues we face are not complicated, the solutions are.  Mesquite is financially bleeding to death.  Plain and simple, more money goes out than comes in.  Unlike the Federal Government, we cannot print more money to pay our bills.  Basic economics tell us that at some point we will run out of money to meet our obligations.

So what are the issues that directly relate to our financial health?  We are running a budget deficit that has run about one million dollars for seven out of eight years.  This multi year deficit is reducing our required reserves at a rapid rate.  We could do, as many cities do; blame past administrations or individuals, but to what end?  It’s time to seek solutions and move forward.

If no solution is found soon, we could find ourselves insolvent in as few as five years.  Just plain truth, no bull.

Before I decided to write this article, I spent considerable time looking at how we got where we are, analyzing what we had control over and what we didn’t.  I spoke at length with the city manager, finance director and members of the council.  I also looked at numerous communities with similar problems.  We are not unique.  Some cities solved their financial problems, some have not.  I want to help solve these problems.  Notice, I didn’t say I could do it alone.  Workable solutions will take innovative ideas and full cooperation from all of us

I believe you can see we don’t have the solution yet.  The problems have been going on for a long time, but I know there will be a light at the end of the tunnel.  But, in order to get there, I will need your ideas that will lead to practical and positive results.

I would hope that this article will get many of you involved enough to call me or write, and of course, come in and talk, not about the problem, but about the solution.  We know the problem.

In my next article I will write about the realities of how a city like Mesquite operates and what it takes to provide us with a first class community with first class services.

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