After reading DJ Becker’s article in Saturday’s Tribune (Circling the Drain), I contacted a past City Employee to inquire how long this problem has been going on. The ex-employee related to me that City Administration was made aware of this, as well as problems related to the gear boxes at the sewer treatment plant, over two years ago by the Sewer Treatment Plant Manager and that Administration chose to do nothing about it. Where was our illustrious City Manager, David Tooley, at that time? (Feathering his own nest and getting ready to abandon ship by retiring before the ship went down?)
Remember, we are being told by staff that we must pay some of the highest wages and benefits in the Central Valley (Even higher than Fresno which has a population of 500,000) in order to attract and keep quality staff? It appears that statement (at least in this case) may not be entirely true. While there are many quality employees at the City of Madera, it appears that some members of the Administration may have been, or currently may be the exception to that rule.
Where was the oversight by our then City Council, of which our Mayor and several past and current Council members were a part, when this problem was first brought to light over two years ago? Surely they must have been aware of this. Was everyone at the top so focused on increased salaries, benefits, building their own fiefdom and feathering their own nests that this problem was low on their priority list, or did they choose to ignore it in the hopes they would be retired prior to it surfacing? Again, the taxpayers continue to pay and no public official is punished or fired for their incompetence. It seems that this is a common story with government these days and may well deserve an investigation by the Grand Jury and the new District Attorney.
The Municipal Golf Course is another problem that is costing the taxpayers of Madera a substantial amount of money each year. According to Tim Pryzbyla, the finance director of the City of Madera, the City is budgeted to transfer approximately $300,000 from the General Fund to the Golf Course in fiscal year 2018/2019 in order to balance the budget of the Muni, all while we are being told that the City lacks the funds to properly maintain our streets and infrastructure. (This annual transfer, if continued, would amount to $1.5 million over a five-year period.) This practice of transferring monies from the General Fund would be the same as if an individual did not have enough money in his or her checking account to pay the bills each month and had to borrow, or withdraw from savings, in order to cover the bills.
This practice is not balancing the budget. Funds should not be diverted from the General Fund so that a few select politicians and ex-officials can continue to play golf at a reduced rate. The justification for this, I am told, is that the Muni is an “enhancement” to the community. Taxpayers should not be saddled with paying for something that only a few of our citizens and officials actually utilize. The solution is to take a loss and sell the Muni to an outside owner/operator who will more than likely figure out how to make it a profitable venture, if it is even possible.
— Michael Pistoresi,
DMP Development Corp.,