After reading Jennifer Beckstrand’s letter in the Sept. 5 edition of the Clipper, I could not allow her comments to go unchallenged. This was a political attack and deserves a correct response.
Larry supported the 1 percent increase in the energy tax and the nominal garbage fee increase, as did the rest of the council. There are costs associated with providing the basic services of government. The three-step water rate increase and bond were necessary to pay for basic upgrades to our aging water system. The recent six-foot sink hole on Parrish and Main was caused by a 50-year-old water pipe that ruptured. The council did not have the financial resources to avoid the water bond without raising taxes! Escalating UTOPIA costs have weakened our ability to pay cash for essential services.
Jennifer mentioned that Larry proposed increasing the size of city government by adding two new full-time city positions. The real issues centered on emergency management and impartial code enforcement – both within the proper role of government. Larry introduced a resolution that created the Citizen Corps Council – an organization committed to preparing our community for disasters. This program prepared us for the 2011 windstorm. Larry supports fairness and impartiality in administering code enforcement. His actions engaged the council leading to long overdue improvements.
Since March 2013, more than 1,700 patrons have visited the Whitaker Museum. Last year volunteer efforts brought in more than $50,000 in donations and grants. Paying $20,000 for a part time director to oversee the volunteers is a net gain to the city!
Jennifer makes a rather divisive statement that, “Larry opposed merit or performance-based salary increases for hard working police officers.” Her statement is a falsehood. Larry applauds the officers. He understands the nature of their work, having served in combat and in three military campaigns. His budgetary concerns were more generalized and not centered on any particular department. His focus was eliminating the proposed property tax increase. I applaud him for being a watchdog over all of our expenditures.
Finally, the claim that Larry was offered numerous opportunities to sit on the UTOPIA board and turned them down is simply another gross distortion of the facts. The mayor never offered him this opportunity. The lease program now offered in lieu of the $2,750 UTOPIA connection fee is an example of his efforts to make it easier for Centerville residents to sign up for this service.
I would encourage citizens to become informed about the facts by visiting Larry’s website at lawrencewright.org.
Centerville Campaign for Larry Wright