To the editor:
John Szerlag, Cape Coral's city manager, has had a very disappointing beginning!
By sounding the fiscal alarm and saying that if something isn't done in the next nine to 10 months to find additional ways to bring in money the Cape could have trouble paying its bills by 2016, Mr. Szerlag has shown himself to be a man devoid of creative ability. We all knew, before the hiring of Mr. Szerlag, that times were tough, revenues were down, we were drowning in expenses, and there was an urgent need to find new income paths. Mr. Szerlag took the job knowing full well that the city was in financial disrepair and we were expecting the city manager to find creative ways to weather the storm.
When the city manager arrived, I sent him a very positive note welcoming him, telling him that I had some creative ideas that I believed would benefit the city, and I offered to meet with him.
He, Mr. Szerlag chose to not respond.
And, I assumed from his "no answer" that he had his own creative ideas that would be put in play, in an attempt to save the city. To hear the city manager "sound the alarm" without offering creative solutions is very disappointing.
Raising taxes, in any manner, shape or form, is wrong and serves to indicate both disrespect for Cape citizens and a complete disregard for the financial agonies being experienced by the great majority of the cities residents.
It's time for the Council and the city manager to look beyond the "easy way out" and for them to assume a leadership role.and do their jobs. Leadership means find a way to support the city without causing additional pain and suffering for the rate payers. It means "cut the nut" and at the same time find creative ways to produce revenues.
It means that's your job, and do it with integrity and forthrightness. This is not to say that it's easy, or that I profess to have all the answers. However, this is to say that you turned down my offer to provide a plan, without even examining it, without even discussing it, and, as a result, it's incumbent on you as the city manager to offer his own creative solution, not just to "sound the alarm."
As for the Council, politics should not trump propriety! You hired Mr. Szerlag and now it's your job to see that the taxpayers receive their money's worth; that begins with creative solutions. The raising of taxes, at this point in time, would be a dishonorable breach of the public trust.
My suggestion to council members is simple: If you feel that you can't do the job then do the right thing and resign. If you decide to keep the job, then be grown up and make the hard decisions. And, if you believe that pomposity and arrogance have no place in this equation then call me, I just might have some answers for the sake of the city.
If you vote to raise taxes, in any way, you will be voted out of office at our earliest opportunity!