Editor’s note: This column was originally published this week by Doug Robertson on his Tumblr account.
By Doug Robertson
Victorville City Manager
(Victorville)–Is it just (during) election season that people feel they can say whatever they want regardless of the truth? What is the plan after November 6th? Is their moral compass something they think they can turn on and off, or put it away in a drawer? I just don’t get it.
Every presidential debate is followed immediately by lists of what the candidate got wrong. Then each side says the other side lied while they try to downplay or ignore their own foibles, intentional or not. I guess it’s just expected and many people find it acceptable, “All’s fair in love and war”… and in politics. In my book the ends do not justify the means.
My professional ethics tenets, and my own good judgment, prohibit me from getting involved in local politics. So this is not intended to tell you who to vote for or not vote for. In fact, most of the misinformation I hear about or read isn’t even coming from candidates. I’m not interested in calling anyone out or getting into an argument but I think it is important for the public to have facts about the City of Victorville, just simple facts.
The City’s General Fund has a balanced budget with no use of reserves for the first time in four years. We accomplished this by cutting, and cutting some more, and cutting some more. Not one deputy or fire fighter lost his or her job as a result but over 200 other employees did. We are not and never really were close to bankruptcy.
Money spent on projects at SCLA, whether ultimately successful or not (and we all know some were and some weren’t), was spent from property tax increment. It (would) be illegal for those who made those decisions to have used that tax increment for day to day operations such as hiring more sheriff deputies. Illegal.
There are more sheriff deputies on the street now than there were one year ago. At the request of the captain who is effectively our Police Chief, we added two sheriff deputies to our streets less than 12 months ago. This budget year we eliminated several unfilled positions when the cost of maintain vacancies went up approximately 70%. Non-safety departments cut over 50% over the last few years to ensure we could maintain existing levels of police and fire. I’d love to hire more deputies but I’d love more to live within our means.
The hundreds of millions of dollars in bonds issued by SCLAA and the former RDA are not a liability or responsibility of the City. The repayment of those bonds comes from tax increment, property tax that did not previously exist. Repayment does not come from any money the City would otherwise have for recreation, parks, fire, police, or other city services.
The Industrial Wastewater Treatment Plant at SCLA is working very well, in fact it’s profitable. It will be even more profitable as we add additional customers. It was financed internally which put a strain on some accounts but we have worked through those issues. We entertained offers from VVWRA, and may still in the future, but have not come to a price both sides could be comfortable with. We continue to negotiate with VVWRA regarding the final outflow of treated water and they will either continue to take that flow or we will handle it ourselves. Both of those options have pros and cons and a final decision has not yet been made.
I have no interest in promoting candidates, whether currently affiliated with the city or not. This election is between them and the voters. I am a voter in Victorville and even I haven’t made up my mind. When I read or hear of lies, half-truths, and misinformation, whether intentional or accidental, I have always defended myself and my city. I will continue to do so. Hopefully these simple facts are not news to you. If any are or if you have any questions about any of it or any other aspect of city government, please contact me at (760)955-5029 or firstname.lastname@example.org.