City should go on a spending diet

Overspending by our city council and our city administration is a disaster for taxpayers, but it's not the problem. It's the symptom of the problem.

The problem is that both our city council and our city administration do not understand that overspending is a serious issue for taxpayers and Prince George's fiscal health. In other words, they don't see anything wrong with continually increasing their annual spend and increasing our taxes. They believe that increasing cost and increasing debt is unavoidable, and as long as they believe that, the present situation is OK and nothing will change.

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Our present situation with our city's overspending of both our operating and capital budgets is very much analogous to the TV show My 600-lb Life. In that show, an unfortunate individual is struggling to reduce his or her weight down from 600 pounds in order to save his or her life from the ravages of obesity. Under the tough love guidance of Dr. Nowzaradan (Dr. Now), the patient struggles to gain control of his or her eating behaviour.

Our problem in P.G. is that we want our city administrators to gain control of their spending habits (overeating) in order to avoid the ravages of overtaxation. At present, our city council is analogous to the enabler in the TV show. In My 600-lb Life, there is an enabler who brings food to the overweight subject and enables him or her to continue the detrimental eating behaviour. In our situation, city council brings food (money) whenever the administration requests it and the cycle of overeating (overspending) and weight gain (budget increases) continues.

Are there solutions to overspending?

Yes.

Are there solutions to better budgeting?

Yes.

Are there solutions to better project execution?

Yes, there are, but just like in My 600-lb Life, it's not easy.

In fact, it's difficult and that's why Dr. Now uses a tough love approach because he knows that he can't change the behaviour of the 600 pound patient or the enabler. He knows that if they are to be successful they have to admit that there is a problem and that they have to provide the determination to change. All Dr. Now can do is provide the process for success.

Our city council and administration both have to admit that they have a spending problem and they have to agree to change their behaviour.

If they don't admit that they have a problem, then nothing will change and our taxes will continue to increase and our fiscal health will continue to deteriorate.

In the analogy above, we (taxpayers) are Dr. Now and we are the ones who must practice fiscal tough love with our city council and our city administration. Our first step is to contact our city councilors and persuade them that their present practice of enabling the city to continue to increase their annual spending is wrong and that annual tax increases are not acceptable. Only when our city council understands that tax increases should be the exception and not the rule will we put ourselves on the road to fiscal health.

Changing our spending practices in Prince George will be difficult and it will be a long road but we need to get started.

Alan Laundry,

Prince George

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