Augusta City Manager defends city’s transparency

Augusta City Manager Josh Shaw at Monday’s city council meeting responded to questions and comments made during the public hearing on Aug. 7 concerning the 2018 Budget.
“There appeared to be about five themes brought up in the hearing: the city is drowning in debt, people can’t afford to live here, that there is a transparency issue with city staff, and some mis-information concerning city expenditures,” Shaw said.
“I believe the City of Augusta has been very transparent. The budget was discussed at length. At several meetings – it’s been available on the website since February.“
Shaw pointed out that current information on the city’s debt is posted on the city’s website, and is also included in the budget, which is available, as well.
“Augusta is not drowning in debt,” he said and shared a graph of total bonded indebtedness of similar sized cities. Augusta was ranked lower than Andover, Bel Aire, Chanute, Coffeyville, Mulvane, and McPherson.
Also mentioned at the Aug. 7 public hearing was that the use of bonds is living beyond means.
“We use them strategically. They are not utilized needlessly,” Shaw continued, “It’s the same as citizens having loans or mortgages. Are they living beyond their means because they didn’t pay in cash? It’s a strategy used for financial projects.“
The City has a AA bond rating, which means it has strong capacity to meet its financial commitments. Rates are at historically low levels, as well.

(Read more: News – Butler County Times Gazette)