Communications; without it public safety is compromised
By Mayor James “Jimmy” Bertram
I would like to take this time to address the editorial “when is a bargain not a bargain?” First let me say that I was greatly disappointed to see the very divisive propaganda used, it is very obvious that your friends are employed within the Lockhart fire department and police department with your pattern of articles and editorials that
always lean in an obvious direction. We all have a tendency to be partial towards our family and friends and that is fine and dandy except for when it comes to being responsible for providing all of the services that our great city has come to expect.
You are correct in that “right now today,” Lockhart has a 20-mile “buffer” from Austin, but when SH130 comes on line and dumps all of that traffic onto 183, in Mustang Ridge in December 2007, suddenly you see the need for seamless communication between the many jurisdictions. Another point is that some of our current communications equipment is around 20 years old, well beyond the ten year life expectancy, so it is not a matter of “what-if” the equipment goes out it is indeed a matter of when. When the radio equipment goes out, leaving us without communication, it will not matter how many personnel we have or how much they are being paid. They will be no more effective than if we were to not replace patrol vehicles and allow them all to ride bicycles instead. The point being, public safety is multifaceted, it is just as much dependant on the fine officers, firefighter and lets not forget our EMS and public works, as it is the quality and quantity of communications equipment, vehicles, support personnel and the many other tools that are used in the trades. We currently replace old sewer and water lines that are not yet leaking or spilling. With the mentality of the editorial we should wait till they have failed and the homes have no water or sewer before we replace them? Fortunately the city council and city staff are not short sighted and have a comprehensive replacement plan for infrastructure, vehicles, and major equipment.
As the editor of the newspaper you should know that it is illegal for a municipality to finance ongoing expenses (salaries) with bonds, certificates of obligation, etc. They are to be paid with M & O (maintenance and operations) in the city property tax and one time expenditures can be capitalized and financed with bonds, certificates of obligation etc. Also, the city of Austin will not be paying for anything. The federal government is the one offering the grant with a twenty-five percent match from the citizens of Lockhart. The city of Austin as “the largest city” in our MSA (Metropolitan statistical area) was offered the grant and is sponsoring and choreographing the regional communications effort along with the regional 911 committee and CAPCOG to ensure seamless communication between jurisdictions and regional interoperability compliance.
The grant awards will be announced in December as stated during the council meeting, not September. No, this does not line up perfectly with our city budget but it also does not mean that we have to provide for it in the 2007-2008 budget. We have had grants in the past that did not line up with our budget cycle and they did not create any sort of budget nightmare. It is not anything that a knowledgeable city council and staff cannot contend with, that is why we were put into office, to provide the services and know when to replace equipment and how to pay for it.
This council has worked diligently to open up city government and make it more transparent so as to gain a greater degree of trust from the citizens. Your inference of the council “socking money away for a rainy day” is just down right spiteful and intended to cause divide and mistrust in the community. You have a certain degree of responsibility to the community to be straight forward, informed and truthful and that statement was none of the above. My door is always open. Please come to the city council meetings or my office if you ever have questions or need clarification on an issue. United we stand divided we fall.