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We need a solid commitment to bring Rugby into the 21st Century

By Staff | Mar 19, 2010

What is really happening to Rugby and do we need drastic changes to our local governments?

As I was reviewing the happenings in our city, it dawned on me that one of the most important things we need is complete truth in government and complete and accurate news reporting. What better way to have that accomplished than a letter to the editor that is based upon facts, plain and simple; nothing more and nothing less.

We can start off with the water tower and street project. These two hugely expensive projects were needed as a direct result of the current and past mayoral administrations. As most of us know, the water tower, according to the engineer had never received normal regular maintenance throughout its 30 year life. The streets also suffered from lack of normal maintenance even though the city had the equipment to regularly fill cracks and seal coating would have been a minimal expense when compared to the astronomical cost of redoing a majority of the streets. So whose fault was this? It’s really quite simple, it’s the mayor’s fault, and in this case it goes back for decades. Total cost to the citizens: in excess of $6.5 million.

The next item on the list is the North Central Correctional and Rehabilitation Center. Sorry I forgot, that entity went bankrupt, I mean the Heart of America Correctional and Treatment Center. So what is the real cost of this facility to us tax payers? Well, in terms of defaultedloans approximately $5.3 million. We have the USDA loan of a little over $5 million and then the two $80,000 loans the city and county provided to it that will never be repaid. As most of us know, the Job Development Authority purchased it and leased it back to the county to run and rather than get rid of the Administrator and Board members who ran this facility into bankruptcy, the County Commissioners, with the City of Rugby’s blessing rewarded some of them with new contracts. Did anyone ever wonder why it was done that way? I did, and upon researching it learned that under USDA rules anyone defaulting on a USDA loan can’t ever have another loan with them. Simply put, our city and county governments have placed the future of our city and county in jeopardy and have risked never getting a low interest USDA loan again. In addition we are being levied taxes by the county to help pay for this facility even though our elected officials swore we would never be taxed to help pay for it. Factor in the high costs for boarding city prisoners and rental costs for our police department offices and it’s clear that our elected officials treated our city funds like their own personal Monopoly money once again.

In the last 10-year plan, the Job Development Authority accomplished nothing in the way of bringing jobs to our city. While it received well over $1 million of our taxes, jobs weren’t the primary focus of this agency. Instead, the Board was comprised of individuals who had personal agendas or really had no special qualifications for being on this Board. It was comprised of folks that I refer to as the Rugby elitists; individuals that really have no interests in bringing Rugby into the 21st century, and who think nothing about the city in an effort to further their own agendas. The new 10-year plan that the current Board is approving is not much different than the last 10-year plan, and while I won’t dispute that community development is important to our city, unless we find a way to reverse the current declines in population and loss of jobs, the only thing this plan will do is add additional burdens on the tax payers that are already here. I also question whether a number of the things this Board did were legal, but since Mr. Taxpayer can’t ask for an Attorney General’s opinion, only government officials can, unless we get someone with some backbone who isn’t one of the elitists elected to city or county office, we will never know.

As you will all have heard by the time this is printed, Verety is leaving Rugby and taking its 40 plus jobs with it. Our unemployment rate is 150 percent of the state average, while our property tax rate, $21.46, is over 30 percent higher than the national average.

A quick thumb through the Pierce County Tribune classifieds andyou’ll find a large number of homes for sale or rent and at least a dozen apartments vacant. We suffer from little or no help from the state, and we desperately need officials that will truly carry our interests forward to Bismarck during the next legislative session and beyond.

With the time to file ballot petitions approaching the close, I challenge any hopeful candidates to come prepared with strong viable plans that include reducing city government, seeking ways to pay down the huge financial burdens that the recent mayoral administrations’ and Rugby City Councils have placed upon us, and a solid commitment to bring Rugby into the 21st Century with good paying jobs that our citizens can enjoy life with.

Ford is a Rugby resident.

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