With the Indiana State Board of Accounts' scathing review of Mr. Arnolds' spending during the first year of 2012, wait till they see 2013. Get the Rolaids ready.
I was informed that the lights that lit up one block of Anderson Street in Elwood cost the taxpayers close to $100,000. If so, then I suggest insanity prevails in our city government, starting with the mayor's office. The breakdown is approximately $40,000 for the lights, another $40,000 for a new truck purchase for helping put up the lights, payroll for different people from Water, to Street, to Maintenance (some did volunteer their time), plus additional rental items and equipment, equaling out to around $100,000.
Who authorized this and or allowed this to come to fruition? The mayor, the Board of Works, the council, city attorney? Who will stand up and take responsibility for lighting up one block of buildings that you can easily count on both hand, (not counting all the vacant ones that were lit up!) Doesn't that come to about $10,000 a building? It's criminal. Rationalizing this expenditure by suggesting it creates evening traffic that in turn generates money for these small business (of which 95 percent of them are not open in the evening — except a pizza parlor and a bar) is an insult to the citizens of Elwood. One would be better off writing out a check for $1,000 to each business and save $90,000. Or, you could have purchased the old Eagles building and put in an after-school activities center for our youth and have $30,000 left over to purchase the needed items to run the center. Wouldn't it make more sense to invest in our youth than put money toward seasonal decorations?
How could anybody in their right mind think that Elwood could afford such an obscene purchase, let alone want it? When I saw the display I wasn't sure we were celebrating Christmas or the Las Vegas strip.
The city of Carmel, Ind., has a tax base where they can literally burn money and no one would miss it, but I can guarantee it that their mayor would not be spending their money on such ridiculous decor, he would be laughed out of office. One can only guess, but at the very most, he might furnish the business owners with a small interest-bearing loan to help them with more permanent improvements such as building awnings, or building signage with clarity and uniformity or he might repair their curb or sidewalk area, or assist with a mortar-and-brick repair. Has Mr. Arnold forgotten that just one week before the Christmas lighting went up the Elwood building inspector was out doing a walk through these buildings due to the concern of structural issues such as roof and ceiling collapsibility?
Maybe Rochester, Mich., can afford such lights (their family medium income is $93,000 and the average house sells for $293,000 but, in Elwood, where medium family income is $32,746 and the average house sells for $62,755, not including foreclosures, and where the HUD housing per capita is one of the largest in the state, and where more than 65 percent of the schoolchildren are getting free meals and unemployment is twice the national average at 13.2 percent, it doesn't take a rocket scientist to know that this money could be put to better use in our downtown area. Quite frankly, if I was the federal government, I would question all federal grant money going to Elwood, given this most recent outlandish spending spree.
How can the citizens of Elwood be a cheerleader to these kind of expenditures? I am not sure the mayor has a grasp of, or an overall understanding, of the Elwood community, relative to its demographic and fiscal affairs. Two years ago, his election enthused and inspired us; today from the citizens, to the council, to the FOP, we are filled with questions and distrust. Let's hope he can turn it back around, and we can all stand behind him once again. It is up to him. We are waiting.