Open Government Project
A Government Watchdog Group
State of Texas
City of Galveston
Public Interest Groups
The Challenge for the Next City Council
by David Stanowski
13 November 2019
Can the next City Council END the long-standing practice of operating OUR City government for the benefit of City employees and well-connected insiders and START running it for the benefit of residents and business owners?
The Council pays the City Manager and his top lieutenants six-figure salaries, as well as giving them generous pension plans, medical-insurance coverage, and other perks; compensation packages that are unavailable to most people who live here, since our median HOUSEHOLD income is only $43,471, making top City managers some of the most affluent people on the Island.
Last year, the City had 841 employees including 520 civilian bureaucrats. The total compensation package for the 520 bureaucrats cost approximately $29,000,000; an enormous financial burden on taxpayers.
Ignoring the meager incomes of most residents, City Council has been conducting surveys of compensation levels in "selected" cities to justify increasing compensation to what they believe is "necessary" to keep City employees happy, so they do not seek employment elsewhere. No thought was given to how much the citizens of this city can "afford" to pay City employees, only what they "need" to pay to keep them happy.
In contrast, City Council saw no need to survey residents and business owners to see what it needs to do to keep them happy. How much does the City need to lower taxes and regulations to keep them from leaving the Island?
How many mangled streets, missing sidewalks, broken water mains, flooded streets, inoperable fire hydrants and unreliable water meters will residents and business owners tolerate before they leave? Clearly, the City's priority is compensation not infrastructure.
It's time for the City to start privatizing and cut spending rather than constantly raising taxes and borrowing money! MORE should be spent on infrastructure and LESS on compensation.
Galveston is a wonderful city with many qualities and attributes found in few other places which is why millions of people choose to visit each year. But people are much more selective in choosing a place to live, so when the population does not grow, it means that many people see drawbacks to living on the Island; many of which are created by City government. Business Insider just published a list of the "most miserable cites in America". Unfortunately, Galveston scored in the top 10%! This supports the City's inclusion in "Voices From Forgotten Cities" by MIT.
Council still does not realize how difficult it is for many people and businesses to "survive" in this city.
For City Council and Mayoral candidates to truly be committed to running the City for the benefit of the residents and business owners, they must be willing to: REDUCE the burden of taxes and regulations currently piled on them by City Hall, PROPERLY maintain the infrastructure and provide HIGH-quality services. City government should make it easy and inexpensive for residents to maintain and upgrade their homes and neighborhoods and ASSIST people in starting new businesses and expanding existing businesses instead of constantly creating new obstacles to do business.