Editor’s note: In the wake of the controversy sparked by a newsletter she e-mailed to all Stallings residents on Monday, Dec. 27, Mayor Linda Paxton asked for a chance to explain what she meant.
For the record, the question of outsourcing police services for Stallings is dead, over and done. I helped interview and choose the new police chief. He is extremely well qualified, energetic and brings a disciplined, professional style to our department. I’ve conveyed my support for him and will continue to do so.
It seems my latest newsletter to constituents has provided new fuel for my opponents who, once again, rushed straight to the media with their political spin. Just as there was a push to take this issue off the table before all the information was given to the public, there apparently is a new outcry over my informing citizens about the potential tax impact the decision held. Council members who voted to end the discussion without complete information are reportedly upset that I am pointing that out to their constituents.
It seems we have a double standard. It’s OK for council to criticize the mayor’s actions and opinions, but I’m supposed to always agree and support council actions, even when I disagree with their decision-making process. No one should be surprised by my comments as we openly discussed the need to wait for the sheriff’s report and the Finance Committee’s review and recommendations at the council meeting when the action was taken. I was not alone in that opinion. The vote was 4-2, and the mayor doesn’t vote.
I take full responsibility for my actions and opinions. I research issues thoroughly before I take a position on any issue, and once I do, I’m willing to explain where I’m coming from to anyone who asks. It is a responsibility I believe all elected officials owe their citizens. We should never be afraid to have an informed public if we are making decisions in their best interest. Given the facts, anyone can do the math. The sheriff’s recommended staffing for equivalent services would cost $1,212, 822. Our 2010-2011 public safety budget is $1,962, 045. The difference is $729,223. One cent on our tax rate generates $145,000 in revenue. $729,223 divided by $145,000 = 5.01 Cents. And that doesn’t take into account full credit for equipment the town owns, which would have given a greater savings in the first few years.
But as I said, right or wrong, the decision has been made. Despite my adversaries’ spin, I have no intentions of re-opening the discussion of outsourcing during Chief Dummett’s tenure. Nothing in my newsletter implied otherwise. So I once again extend a warm welcome to Chief Dummett, and I look forward to having the chief join me for coffee with the mayor times in January. I encourage our citizens to also come out to meet him and welcome him to our community. I have every confidence that his leadership will be good for Stallings.
For those who continue to interpret sound fiscal management with a lack of support for police services, please review the following list of initiatives I personally brought to council during my tenure:
• Initiated participation in the R-U-Okay Program for seniors and handicapped citizens.
• Organized shred days and invited police participation to support prevention of identity theft.
• Organized the first National Night Out cookout in Spring Hill community with help of Councilwoman Hartis.
• Organized and led Project 365, a year-long program that contributed to a 38 percent reduction in calls for service to the Spring Hill community.
• Advocated and supported plans to make National Night Out an annual community-based event.
• Initiated bonuses for officers who earned advanced certifications. Several have received these bonuses.
• Lobbied for extension of community-policing model and community policing certification for officers.
• Lobbied for certification by the Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies to demonstrate the department ranks among the best.
It’s difficult to see how that can be considered a lack of support for police.
Mayor of Stallings