If truth stretching were an art, Geneva Mayor Kevin Burns would be Picasso

If truth stretching were an art, Geneva Mayor Kevin Burns would be Picasso

Since Kevin Burns thought it would be fun to thrust me in the role of opponent Bob McQuillan’s campaign manager, I’d hate to disappoint him.  burns 2
Thus, considering his response response to McQuillan on another website where the mayor extolled his vast fiscal virtue, having become enamored of the objective Politifacts folks, I thought I might play the role of debunker right here.
So without further ado let’s examine the Mayor’s proclamations:
1. Since 2001 Geneva’s Tax Rate has declined from .73 to .53.
No it hasn’t. If you’re willing to peruse Geneva’s latest budget summary report, on page 3, the current tax rate is clearly listed as .646. Did the Mayor really think no one would check? Oh! That’s right! Neither the Chronicle nor Patch ever do (Where’s Brenda Schory when you really need her?).
Though he certainly gives the impression they have, the mayor didn’t say city taxes have gone down because they haven’t! Since 2001 they’ve increased by approximately 5 percent while the average Illinois home value decreased by 11.1 percent. That amounts to a 16 percent city property tax increase.
Not only that, but in Dec. 2011, with one alderman absent, Mayor Burns cast the very vote that kept a $10 property tax increase alive for two weeks before it finally failed. I know 10 bucks isn’t much, but it’s the thought that counts.
2. Since 2009 Geneva’s General Fund Budget has been reduced by 30%.
No it hasn’t! As I’ve previously stated, the Mayor is talking about budget to budget cuts which aren’t really cuts. It’s when you don’t spend money that you haven’t already spent yet.
For example, I can make myself look really good by budgeting $700,000 for 10 new dump trucks and then  not buying them. But I haven’t actually cut any current expenses. The truth is, under Mayor Burns, Geneva hasn’t made any significant budget cuts.
3. Current City staffing levels are at 2005/2006 levels.
Even though I completely agree with this one, it begs the question, just how stupid does the mayor think we really are? Because what he’s really saying is, “City staffing is at the same level it was right before the Great Recession!”
So while most municipalities bit the bullet and cut staff, the Mayor stated on multiple occasions that municipal employees should not have to “suffer” like the rest of us mere mortals. And they haven’t!
4. Emergency Reserves have been increased.
That’s like bragging about kissing your sister.
5. Only 8% of homeowners’ tax payments are for city services.
Another specious statement.  But if we flip it around a bit what the Mayor really said is, “79 percent of homeowners’ tax payments go to personnel expenditures which include the kind of pension and health care benefits you peons can only dream of.”
The mayor has refused to cut as much as dental insurance! And when Geneva gives employees like City Manager Mary McKittrick get a car allowance, it counts toward their pension!
6. Geneva has developed and operated 11 consecutive balanced budgets.
So what! Most households balance their budgets too. The vast majority of smaller Illinois cities do not and cannot operate on a deficit. When you’re making no real budget cuts, it’s easy to balance the budget.
7. For 3 consecutive years, Geneva has earned the prestigious Distinguished Budget Presentation Award by the Government Finance Officers Association of the United States & Canada.
Yes! And if you send that “prestigious” group your checkbook and $425, they’ll send you the same award. Ninety-eight percent of municipalities that “apply” for the “award” get it!
8. Geneva has posted its payments to vendors online for many years; before it was fashionable to do so.
Where? Unless the Mayor is counting the annual budget I don’t see ’em anywhere. So much for “transparency.”
More to come in part 2! And rest assured, I’m not telling you who to vote for, I’m just telling you the truth.

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