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Charter plan excludes public

Reader Input
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Kevin Dayton, state lobbyist for the ABC (Association of Builders and Contractors), commented in the Auburn Journal that Auburn would benefit from a charter because we would pay lower taxes (Reader Input, Sept. 26). What? Do we get free ice cream, too? Auburn is a sleepy little town, and we like it that way. However, the citizens need to wake up and pay attention to this charter vote scheduled for June 2012. Listed as a positive by the city attorney in 2010 was the fact that it will be easier to levy taxes and assessments. Municipal codes will have to be kept up to date (not being done per city manager report in 2010). New staff salaries? More city attorney costs? Councilors have assured us that they will not be like the City of Bell, because their pay cannot be raised. Guess what. Neither could salaries of the Bell Council. They made their bloated incomes based on sitting on boards and commissions. Oceanside passed its charter just before the Bell scandal. It did not go to ballot when the public participated looking at what it meant on four prior occasions. Thanks to the likely guidance of lobbyists like the ABC, it finally passed, being crafted just as ours was, without formal public participation. Critical examination as to the costs, pitfalls, staff reports and special interest input would have occurred if there had been a citizens’ committee. The public was deliberately excluded. It is not considered a best practice to exclude the public in the drafting charters. City Council public comment forums are not a real form of participating in drafting such an important document. We are being sold this as good for local control and savings ... of what? A few projects where there are no state or federal funds involved? This will be an expensive proposition. Vote “no” on the charter. Victoria Connolly, Auburn