City’s governing process is broken
The actions of Mayor Marks and the previous City Council have for all intents and purposes broken the processes. They are now flawed and have lost the credibility required to effectively govern and provide services to the city of Athens.
People I talk with are justifiably upset with city government across the board. The key reasons being:
• The manner in which the recent sales tax increase was brought before the council for a vote was completely flawed. It was rushed, with no detailed justification for its need or how it would be controlled and expended. There was no or very limited communication with the tax paying citizens for them to adequately understanding or obtain a concurrence with the need. Leading up to the vote, it appeared a deal had been cut as to where some of the new revenue would be spent in order to obtain the needed votes for passage. The vote was a done deal prior to any council meeting. There were very significant appeals both privately and publicly to delay the vote for the above reasons as well as allow the incoming council the professional courtesy and make the vote. There was an open personal disregard by certain council members toward the citizens attending the Oct. 19 and Oct. 22 council meetings arguing against a potential decision. The topper was an article in the Oct. 28 Sunday News Courier which made the tax increase unable to stand on its own when a comparison of it was made to the requirement for funding the new county jail.
• The process and timing of the decision to announce the Athens Utilities Roundup program. Not enough consideration was given to the timing and the lingering negativity resulting from the tax vote. A lack of adequate citizen input and not recognizing citizen distrust of the process and actions being implemented and taken. No suggested list of benefiting organizations. Questions of the mayor influencing the decision making process by the board he appointed?
• The antagonism and damaged relations brought about by items 1 and 2 above between the Limestone County Commission and the county citizens and the Athens city government, as well as placing city departments and personnel in a bad light through no fault of their own.
I strongly suggest the new City Council listen “rescind” the tax vote and reset Athens direction anew.