Friday, December 10, 2010

Councilman Don Williams responds

In a recent blog post I noted that the Bossier City Council had voted to restore funding for some non-profits while leaving the cuts for others intact. That brought on the following exchange in the comment section between Matt Sciba and Councilman Don Williams.
Matt Sciba said...
I don't see why Bossier funds the Robinson/RRFS. The Robinson is in Shreveport, and Shreveport receives the tax revenues. I can't even recall a single Film Society event in Bossier City.
Our City needs $100Million for a new sewerage system, and we laid off 40 police and fire a while back, but at least we have the film center! (Yeah, I know, it's all from the other budget.)
D. Williams said...
Matt,
I didnt vote for funding the Robinson Film Center but you need to get a grip on yourself and figure out what your saying before you say it
Matt Sciba said...
Don,
I didn't say you voted for funding the Robinson.
What exactly am I missing?
This is how it appears to many in Bossier City:
1. BCC spends $50 Million on CyberCommand.
2. the next year there's a $6 Million deficit and BCC has to lay off 40 fire and police.
3. 2010 Budget lists a $6 million surplus.
4. Proposed 2011 budget, BCC is looking to cut spending. They cut spending on a business which isn't even located in the city, then reverse their decision, as "the economy worsens".
So please, explain to me where I have strayed. I welcome any and all clarification.
Dwilliams said...
Matt, I will call you and tell you where you have strayed. Thanks
Matt Sciba said...
DWilliams,
You could post where I have erred on this comment section so others of the same reasoning as me can also reach the same level of understanding.
DWilliams said...
Matt, I just e-mailed you a very long e-mail answering all of your questions and it is just to long to put on here. Maybe after you read it you can post what you wish.
Thanks,
Don

As a followup, Matt sent the following email to Don Williams.
Don
I responded to your post on MyBossier, but I have a couple other comments.
If I have misunderstood how things work in Bossier, it is not for lack
of trying. Currently, the proposed 2011 budget is not posted online, I
have not received any updates from my city councilman, we have no
assembly meetings, and very little news is reported by the Bossier Press
Tribune. Furthermore, the agenda and minutes for the BCC meetings
contain the least amount of detail possible to still comply with the
open meetings law. I'm not even sure yall keep minutes for the other
Tuesday meetings, the "agenda meetings" wherein you set the agenda for
the following Tuesdays. They are not posted online like the minutes for
the Regular Meetings (Yes, you are supposed to keep minutes for those
meetings too.) All of the meetings are during the workday. I can't
attend, my compatriots can't attend. We're all at work. David Jones
has refused to change the meeting times stating that it would be unfair
to the city workers to be at the office at night. Quite frankly, they
city workers are at the service of the citizens who pay their salaries.
There is almost no communication between Bossier City Council or the
Mayor and the citizens of Bossier. Even the most basic information
(items which Shreveport has posted online in great detail) seems to
warrant a public records request, and even then I have to find time
during the workday to make it to the BCC Clerk's office and make copies.
So if there is a misunderstanding, it is quite possibly the fault of the
Bossier City Council, for there is absolutely no effort to clearly
convey information to the citizens.
Thank you for your time,
Matt Sciba

Williams’ email to Matt is lengthy, so I’m just going to post a few points that the councilman made.

    Don Williams
  • When we get he Proposed Budget we go thru it and make changes as we see fit. It would be hard to keep it updated online. We are probably on our 4th draft now so I hope you see my point. When we adopt the proposed budget, the Adopted Budget will be posted on-line and will appear in the Bossier Press. During this time the Proposed Budget is available for review in the Finance Directors office and the City Council office
  • When I was elected to the council coming from the Police Jury, I asked the council to have later meetings so the public would come. We did that for a period of time that I asked for and NO ONE showed up. You need to understand if we have later meetings then we pay overtime to all required city personnel to attend. And to be fair to David Jones, it's not his decision to change the meeting time.
  • Matt, if you tell me exactly what you want or expect from the council I will keep you posted as best I can.
  • As far as your post on My Bossier, let me answer those questions. David Montgomery made an amendment to the Non-Profit budget deleting the Robinson Film Center and changing some others. I requested ALL non-profits that received money from Bossier City to prepare a 3-5 minute presentation of exactly what they use the money for in Bossier City only. They all showed up and did what I asked. They presented the info along with paper copies of the info which I requested. I will tell you this. I believe we give too much away and stated that we need to ween some of these off our budget.
  • Bossier City didn't spend 50 million dollars on the Cyber Center. We spent 35 million and the Police Jury spent 15 million. That is how the 50 million was made up. Then the state kicked in 50 million. I will say I din't vote for this and you can verify that in my voting record. But as always 4 votes win. Now that it's up and going and the money is spent I still have questions about it and ask them quite often. We have to hope it suceeds now. I should have also said this money came from the 100 million bond issue in 2007 that we pay approximately 6.5 million yearly from our riverboat money that I disagreed with also.  There was a 6.5 million deficit last year and that was from borrowing money from our General Fund balance over the last 3 or 4 years. Last year we got to the point that there was not enought money in the balance to transfer to cover the deficit. I voted against the prior budgets along with Mr. Darby. I told them we would be broke in 3 years. I missed it by 1 year. We were broke in 2 years. The Mayor's Proposed Budget last year cut 40 Police and 40 Firefighters. I didn't go for that and myself and Mr. Montgomery actually made the revised budget and finally got it adopted which the Mayor did not support. We actually only laid off 1 active duty police officer and the 8 or 10 in the academy and I believe 7 from the fire dept. and the guys in the academy. Of those 7 that were cut, 1 was a secretary, 1 a mechanic, 2 from comunications. So it was not as bad as it seemed. We let attrition take care of the rest thruout this year. There was NO 6 million surplus in 2010. That article in the Times was incorrect and when explained to the writer of the article he then understood.
It is good to see an exchange in the comments section of My Bossier between a citizen and an elected official taken to the next level, a serious exchange of ideas and views.
As a side note, Don Williams has always been very open and straightforward when I had questions of him, as has David Jones.
It is good to see people actually engaging our elected officials in a conversation, and it is good to see those officials striving to make their point of view understood.

16 comments:

  1. Concerned Bossier CIty Resident and Tax PayerDecember 10, 2010 at 10:22 PM

    Maybe the good councilman will tell the cost and who paid for the parking garage at the Boardwalk. And if it's true that Bossier City paid for it, and who voted for it.

    If Bossier City paid for it, how can it be justified to put a parking garage paid for with public funds be placed adjacent to a private entity for sole use by that private entity?

    Not only does the Boardwalk enjoy the use of city owned parking garage, they also enjoy police officers solely assigned to that venue. How is this justified?

    As far as the Cyber Innovation Center, how could it have been justified to build the damned thing before it was confirmed that the Air Force was going to place Cyber Command at Barksdale? (BTW, thank you for not voting for that white elephant.)

    I do believe you to be one of the honest ones, but I still would like these questions answered.

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  2. Yes, Bossier City did pay for the parking garage at the Booardwalk. This was a Public/Private endeavor. It costs us about 23 million if I remeber corectly. But you also have to look at the sales taxes the Boardwalk brings in. Believe me, I've seen the numbers and it's well worth it.The police officers as I understand it now are only down there on Thursday, Friday and Saturday due to heavy customer traffic. ( of course this is not considering the holidays ) Just remember we started off from day 1 with a strict dress and behavior code. We have to enforce the code or people wouldn't come back. That's the reason for the police presence.

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  3. That was D.Williams on the previous comment, I couldn't get my name in there

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  4. The officers are at the boardwalk daily...not just Thursday through Saturday.

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  5. All of those businesses pay taxes, they are entitled to police protection.

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  6. Anon at 7:51
    All other business and shopping centers pay taxes too, they don't have police assigned specifically to them, so what makes the Board Walk more special than say, Pierre Bossier Mall, Bossier Cross Roads, Heart of Bossier...?
    My neighbors and I pay taxes. Why don't we have a police officer specifically assigned to our street?
    Your justification as to why the Board Walk gets police officer assigned to it is, let's say lame.

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  7. Just go down there and look at the traffic also. I just left there at 9pm Saturday and its a madhouse. Go to Pierre Bossier Mall or say your neighborhood street and see if you have the same amount of people as the boardwalk. Don't think so. But you have your opinion and are entitled to it. Just use some common sense.

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  8. The Boardwalk generates more than ample tax revenue to justify the police presence. Without it, they would not stay in business. Simple, people like a safe place to gather.

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  9. If the Board Walk is making ALL of this money, why don't they pay off duty officers for security like every other business in town. The fact that tax payers are flipping the bill for the Board Walk is pure bullshit!

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  10. How many police officers are we talking about for how many hours. What is the cost to the city?

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  11. I must agree with the idea that if the Boardwalk wants security, they should hire off duty officers. Paying taxes does nit entitle one to a greater use of city services. Ere are a great many people in the country who pay no taxes and receive the same, or more services than those who pay.

    The Boardwalk is a private business which pays taxes. Circle K is a private business which pays taxes, yet the boardwalk gets taxpayer funded security and circle k does not even though Circle K probably has a much higher rate of armed robbery and other violent crimes.

    If a private business wants it's goods protected, it must provide it's own security. Does the city pay for the locks on the doors? The security cameras in each building? The alarm systems? Probably not. So why should we also pay for security guards?

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  12. Does the Boardwalk pay for off duty officers to work or is the entire police presence at the Boardwalk paid for by the city?

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  13. Not Lowalker,
    From my understanding the policemen who work at the Board Walk is paid for by the city. They even have an office there and the machines they ride around on only at the Boardwalk is paid for by the city too. I think the only thing that isn't paid for by Bossier City is the office.

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  14. p.s.
    the officers isn't off duty, they are assigned there and that is their duty.

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  15. I went to new orleans the other day and saw NOPD officers patrolling Bourbon street, which i think is full of privately-owned businesses. what is the difference?

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