Sunday, October 2, 2011

On the Trail With Frank: Fiscal Responsibility

Like most kids of my generation, I learned to work at an early age. At age 12 I ran a mower at a local golf course. From age 16 to 21 I was a lifeguard at a public pool and I managed a corporate swimming facility at age 19. I also delivered newspapers and taught people how to swim.

I attended college and earned a BA with the help of scholarships, work and loans. I then put myself through law school while assisting my sister to achieve her BA degree. I went to work for a Fortune 500 company where I helped manage their legal activities.

Three years ago I served as a Whitefish City Counselor for a year, having been selected to fill a vacancy. It was clear to me from the start that city government must be managed like a business. The budget must be balanced and operating reserves must be maintained. I believe a 15% reserve is appropriate to take care of our obligations and remain flexible in the face of unforeseen circumstances.

At a time when many public office holders think they have all the answers, I welcome an open public discussion about how our City can achieve efficiencies in its operations. Recently a citizen suggested to me that Whitefish initiate electronic water bills. Why not do the analysis of this idea and adopt it if it makes fiscal sense? I learned long ago that if you mind your pennies, the dollars take care of themselves.

Currently, there is a debate as to where the new city hall should be located. Several folks have advanced various plans, most of them coupled with premature or downright inaccurate budgets. The fiscally responsible thing to do is to slow down and initiate a thorough public process to consider all alternatives. What's the hurry? The current city hall is still useable and we have room to grow next door.

While on the City Council, I voted several times in support of the Central Ave. street-scapeing project. It turned out to be a good investment, helping bring us our highest summer resort tax revenues ever. Additionally, the pride of having an attractive downtown cannot be measured. In all decision-making, it is important to study the options and invest in what works.

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Every Monday through November 7th, I will send you a brief newsletter that lets you know who I am, what I value, and why I ask for your support in the coming city council election. Please feel free to send me your views by email: franksweeney@montanasky.net or by phone (863-4848).

Or come see me and I'll buy you a coffee or beer. I'll be at Montana Coffee Traders every Tuesday from 4-5 and the Great Northern Bar every Thursday from 5-6. Let's talk. I'm excited about serving once again on the Whitefish City Council, and I want to start a conversation with YOU.
Note: The election ballot is mail-in only. Ballots will be sent out on October 19th and must be returned by mail or to city hall by November 8th. You must be registered to vote at your current address to receive your ballot.