Tax bills show benefit of city administrator

ANYONE WHO STILL HAS doubts about the wisdom of the city of Plymouth hiring a full-time administrator should take a close look at their property tax bill when it comes in next month.

When they do, they’ll see that the property tax rate is nearly the same as the year before.

Dig a little deeper and they’ll find that the city’s property tax levy – a more accurate measure of a government’s fiscal performance – has stayed the same for three straight years.

Not coincidentally, that’s the same period that Brian Yerges has served as the city’s chief administrator, first as director of city services and then as city administrator.

Yerges made it one of his first priorities when he came to Plymouth to put the city’s budgeting process in order and bring to it a sense of stability along with a long-term outlook, while continuing to provide the services city residents expect from their government at the same high level.

He has succeeded admirably in that effort, in spite of a continuing soft economy and state-imposed spending and levy limits.

But his record of success goes well beyond keeping the tax levy flat during his tenure.

Yerges has done that while at the same time greatly reducing the city’s debt and increasing its needed cash reserves.

For many years before Yerges’ arrival, the city had a habit of borrowing for short-term and long-term purposes both, pushing its debt limit as a means of keeping the city budget balanced – a kind of kick-the-candown the-road approach that more often than not leads to trouble for governments.

The city also too often utilized cash reserves to keep the budget balanced, at the risk of not having a needed rainy day fund for unforeseen expenses – also forcing the need to borrow for projects and expenses that should have come out of cash on hand.

Yerges brought his knowledge and expertise to bear on those key issues and, with the cooperation and support of city officials, staff and employees, turned both in the right direction.

He also instituted a regimented budget development process that involved everyone in city government in crafting a reasonable and acceptable budget.

Too often in the past, city budgets were slapped together in haste, haggled over endlessly or cobbled together at the last minute, but no longer.

For those of us here at The Review who editorialized and pushed for a full-time city administrator for Plymouth for decades, Yerges’ track record on the job is vindication and validation of our long efforts against what were sometimes extremely long odds and extremely vocal opposition.

But more importantly, it is a reward – a most welcome one - to all the taxpayers and residents of the city of Plymouth.

At issue:
Three-year flflat tax levy
Bottom line:

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