No Shutdown in Mineola City Government

Huge pothole on N. Line St.

Huge pothole on N. Line St.

Our Federal government has shut down as of today, October 1, 2013. But that doesn’t mean that the city of Mineola has shut anything down, actually it’s just the opposite. In the past 60 days, the city of Mineola has added two new full-time positions to the city’s payroll. An Economic Development Coordinator was added and a Trail Boss for the Mineola Nature Preserve was added. The total of the compensation package for these two positions is in excess of $120,000 annually when considering things like insurance, auto allowance and other benefits.

We reported a month or so back that the city had hired Mercy Rushing, our previous Economic Development Coordinator. This is a great move for the city of Mineola, we need someone smart in this position. This position has largely been absent since Mercy left to go to Canton several years back.

But I can’t help but wonder a few things in light of these new personnel acquisitions. The city miraculously found a source of ongoing funds for these two positions, yet the money for a one-time fix on some of our worst streets and sidewalks leading to local businesses continues to elude us.

Business entrance inaccessible to handicapped shoppers.

Business entrance inaccessible to handicapped shoppers.

I also wonder that since we have two full-time people in the Economic/Community Development department at a projected cost for 2013-14 of $$146,614, why do we need a pay a third party consultant to post on the city’s Facebook page? I have spoken with this department about this many times and have been told that they actually send emails to this consultant telling them what to post on Facebook. So this information is being sent to a consultant via email, then posted to the city’s Facebook page. I see this as a model of pure inefficiency, especially since the personnel cost of this department will rise by 148% for the 2013-14 budget year over the 2012-13 budget year.

It needs to be said that in a recent correspondence with mayor, Ken Pearce, we were told that Mineola Development Inc. is paying 70% of the salary for the Economic Development Coordinator. This is the shuffling of tax revenue from one department/entity to another, but still this is all tax revenue.

Business entrance inaccessible to handicapped shoppers.

Business entrance inaccessible to handicapped shoppers.

Meanwhile, Commerce St, South Line St. and other roads in our town are full of potholes and in need of serious repair. Commerce St. is beyond repair and needs to be completely re-surfaced, but the City Council has so far refused to do anything about this. Each district of the city is allotted $X for annual street repairs. The Commerce St. project would take a total of most all of the districts. The city council says that they are not willing to give up their individual road budgets to fix Commerce St., Mayor Ken Pearce and Councilman Paul Gates have tried to get the others on the council to do this, but to no avail.

One of many huge pothole on Commerce St.

One of many huge pothole on Commerce St.

While we continue to hold our downtown merchants to stringent standards with the updating and maintenance of their buildings due to tough standards of Mineola’s historical overlay, the very streets that serve those businesses are crumbling while we spend money paying a consultant to post on Facebook on the city’s behalf, pay auto allowances for city employees and spend money raising funds for the Nature Preserve.

Recently, Mineola Community Bank ponied up some money to be the ‘Title Sponsor” of the upcoming Naturefest event at the preserve. That is awesome. This event is being held to raise money for playground equipment at the preserve while the streets of Mineola crumble. Now the city of Mineola is running paid Facebook ads to boast their donation from MCB for the Naturefest. Paying money to advertise to the people of Mineola the fact that they received a donation has a net $0 effect to the taxpayers of Mineola. We won’t even mention the city using taxpayer money to promote one bank over all others. Posting this information on their Facebook page and web site was not enough, they chose to spend the money for a paid ad.

Taxpayer funded ad on Facebook targets the people of Mineola.

Taxpayer funded ad on Facebook targets the people of Mineola.

Several businesses in Mineola are completely inaccessible to handicapped persons or people in electric wheelchairs. One such business, Uniques & Antiques, has brought this to the attention of city leaders multiple times. The store owner in this case owns only the patio and is not allowed by law to put up a ramp on their own. In these cases, it is incumbent upon the city to work with state authorities to get ADA compliant ramps put up so that all customers can access these businesses. But that has apparently not been done.

 

 

 

What We Have:

  • Giant fundraising effort for playground equipment at the Nature Preserve
  • Taxpayers paying for ads to boast about donations for the Nature Preserve
  • Two new positions that the taxpayers will have to pay for over the years to come
  • Third party consultant to post on the city’s Facebook page on behalf of the city

What We Need:

  • Commerce St. fixed
  • N. Line St. fixed
  • Ramps in multiple locations so all businesses in our town are handicapped-accessible

It appears that the city of Mineola is doing great, as long as you are not handicapped and as long as you don’t drive on certain streets.

POLL

Which of these do you think the city should be spending our resources on? Select as many as you wish.

  • Fixing Commerce St and other streets (74%, 50 Votes)
  • Ramps to make our businesses handicapped-accessible (66%, 45 Votes)
  • New playground equipment at the Nature Preserve (24%, 16 Votes)
  • Third-party consultants to update the city's Facebook page (19%, 13 Votes)
  • Paid advertisements to boast of new business sponsors (15%, 10 Votes)

You Have Voted in this Poll. Thanks!
Total Voters: 68

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