Branson City Council passed a three month budget on Tuesday, a step to move the city to a calendar budget as opposed to a fiscal year ending in September.
There is a certain pointlessness in covering the budget as it seems to serve as merely a suggestion rather than a solid framework for city council to work within.
Perhaps the most shining and at the same time repulsive example is the slush fund set aside for Mayor Presley and Branson's alderman. During previous administrations council-members were given a $10 per-diem for each city meeting. Count two meetings a month at 70 dollars and we come up with roughly $1,680 annually. Presley boastfully rejected this pittance of a city expense and put a Mayor and Board of Alderman $51,000 dollar budget expense in it's place.
Unfortunately, this wasn't enough public funds for Presley to spend at her discretion. An additional $120,000 was spent bringing the actual slush fund amount to $171,000.
In the world most citizens have to live in - this would be called theft. But when Branson City Council does it - they're given awards.
There isn't a municipality in Missouri that has it this good. While every county across the state of Missouri has to implement cuts, Branson has been on a massive spending spree. Sales tax reached a record high this year following a three year trend. Unfortunately, not one penny in increased funds can be attributed to the Presley administration.
No action taken by the current administration increased or will increase future returns for Branson citizens. What we do see is a great deal of kicking the gift-horse in the mouth.
The gift-horse is the Branson Landing and the windfall of revenue the facility is bringing to the city. Reporters following the budget have limited journaling to the Presley dictated dialogue where assertions are submitted selectively and arrogantly. In this way the public has been duped - ignorant to the self-serving allocation of public funds delivered through news-stories characteristically lacking in factual analysis.
A slap in the face was delivered this month as the Branson Landing was given an award for it's success and contribution to the economy. But here in the city very few people are aware that the facility will pay $450,000 for rent this year and an estimated $5,000,000 in tax revenue for Branson.
Few know that when the city says $2.5 million of the $5 million Branson Landing will be allocated back to pay off a TIF. Actually the 5 million dollars Branson Landing will pay in sales tax is usually left out.
Few realize the TIF funds are being used to pay back the expense of infrastructure to build the Convention Center and Branson Landing. Perhaps, if it were issued in a press release there would be a wider awareness of the true state of the local economy, but these are limited to making sure everyone is aware our mayor is being granted an award from the American Heart Association (an organization she donates substantial funds to) - these stories run unedited and unattributed by the Springfield News-Leader. In this way our mayor writes the newspaper while the left hand lines personal pockets.
Before I vomit, let me share a fact with you. The $425,000 expense the city is paying to help maintian the Branson Landing city square and accompanied fire show isn't even in the 2010 buddget. The reason is that $450,000 in rent will be paid to the city before the expense is due. This would leave a $25,000 surplus factoring rent and maintenance.
Feeling of loss linger with longtime residents that Mang field no longer hosts children playing baseball and the multi-million dollar Rec-Plex facility with state-of-the-art equipment seems to some a poor substitution.
If we let our bias and resentment guide us. If we hold our leaders higher than our God and fail to examine their actions we have the current state of worship by Branson's regional press we sadly leave a despot for the future and public funds are squandered with no accountability.
But we're lucky. Our past city fathers had the vision to invest in Branson's economic future and while Presley drains $12,000,000 in savings accrued before she came into office, record sales tax revenue and new streams of revenue still emerge, we're lucky that we haven't had to deal with the true shortfalls our neighbors across the state have had to endure.
You'd think an additional $9 million in savings gratefully taken from Obama's Revitalization and Reinvestment Act would enable some of the surplus to remain. But it seems only another excuse to maintain deficit spending policies. The city is off the hook for a new bridge - paid for by Obamanomics.
I would challenge citizens to take a look at what your leaders are doing. Ask yourselves why have six theaters shut down and why are certain businesses thriving. Why are tax funded institutions behind personal businesses and mostly - 77: What has this administration done for the Branson economy besides squandering city funds, which could lower our accounting expense, misinforming the public and stealing far more than they promised to thieve?