To the Residents of Winnsboro:
I wanted to take this opportunity to address the people of Winnsboro after having had to make some of the most difficult decisions of my tenure so far.
It saddened me deeply to have to make some of those decisions, including closing the public pools this summer.
What saddens me even more is the financial predicament we were left to deal with by the last administration.
It's not easy to take away one of the only activities to the kids in the community. Most of the kids' parents and grandparents grew up at these pools.
We understand the loss, but we also understand that we have to prioritize our funds.
Maintaining the Town's budget is not wholly unlike managing a household budget.
We were put in a position of paying the rent to save the taxpayers more fees and penalties or repairing the pool. It was as simple as that.
Nobody wants to tell the kids that their vacation is being cut short because groceries have to be bought next month, but these are the decisions we sometimes have to make as responsible adults.
I took an oath to be fiscally responsible for the taxpayer's money and the record will reflect the efforts of my office to honor that responsibility.
When my term began, we faced enormous financial challenges, many of which had to be addressed immediately just to preserve the quality of essential services.
While there are many areas of infrastructure that need to be considered, restoring financial stability had to be our top priority.
Our challenges included delinquent payments to our employee's retirement accounts, insurance plans and payroll taxes to the IRS.
Not only were the records in disarray, but the Town's facilities and structures such as the swimming pools had also been neglected.
To assist with restructuring our business model to better serve the People, we hired an auditing firm to examine documents and our system of operation.
We have had to liquidate roughly $992,000 in assets to defray chronically delinquent expenses, including $215,000 to the IRS alone. We are currently negotiating a $216,000 fine from the IRS for failure to file W-2 forms in 2015.
As we worked to manage the financial losses, we had many accomplishments over the last year. We reimbursed the past due retirement contributions for police, firefighters and municipal employees, as well as removing former and terminated employees from insurance plans.
Our proposed budget will remain mindful to our overall mission—To provide high quality services which promote a safe, active and healthy environment, thereby enabling our residents to realize the best standard of living possible through cost-effective governance.
The primary goal for the 2019/2020 budget is to maintain or improve upon core services such as water, sewer, garbage and protection as well as improving our reserve for the things that go wrong.
These services are not as visible in the public as our parks and recreational areas, but they are essential and benefit everyone in the community.
The new budget was created based on historical data to predict future revenues and expenses. The benefit of using multi-year data as a forecast is the ability to average changing factors such as population, interest rates and inflation.
To manage the budget more efficiently, the Town's accounting software has been upgraded to reduce data irregularities that can effect budget forecasting.
This will enable us to better keep track of how our budget is reflecting the needs of our community and how it may be changed in the future.
We did not want to make any cuts to any amenities in our community and that's what I'd like the People to know. To uphold my fiduciary oath to the People of Winnsboro, sometimes hard decisions, even unpopular ones, have to be made.
Our budget is about planning for the future. It will set foundations for the long-term sustainability of our community. I understand that restoring financial responsibility is not fun, but I hope we can all agree that without it, nothing else is possible.
John "Sonny" Dumas