Printer Friendly

'No more unfunded federal mandates.' Cities broadcast unified message coast to coast.

Cities Broadcast

Unified Message

Coast To Coast

Standing shoulder to shoulder, wearing buttons that said "enough already" and raising red flags, elected officials across the country joined together on National Unfunded Mandates Day last week to initiate a public awareness campaign about the growing threat of unfunded federal mandates.

More than 100 press conferences were held in virtually every, state across the country. More than 700 cities have adopted resolutions calling for an end to unfunded federal mandates and a new intergovernmental partnership.

Throughout the country, the message was clear - unfunded federal mandates place a severe financial burden on cities and towns and force local governments to shift priorities dramatically to pick up the federal tab.

NLC Immediate Past President Glenda Hood, mayor of Orlando, was joined on the steps of the Orlando City Hall by 52 employees - the estimated personnel costs required annually to comply with unfunded federal mandates.

"If we did not have these 52 people keeping track of our unfunded mandate responsibilities, we could hire 37 additional police officers to help us meet a mandate from the people of our city who want us to continue to provide them with safe streets and safe neighborhoods," Mayor Hood said. The Mayor was then joined by 37 police officers on the steps of city hall in a visible display of the impact of unfunded federal mandates.

Grand Rapids, Mich., City Commissioner Ray Schmidt made the same point in a city hall press conference convened by all the mayors in the West Michigan region. The city council chambers were lined with card board cut outs of police officers symbolizing new officers that could be hired if local officials had more choice about how to deal with federal mandates.

Augusta, Maine, Mayor Bill Burney convened a press conference at the new 18 million Augusta Water Filtration Plant.

Welcome to the Augusta Water District's new filtration plant, a classic example of an unfunded federal mandate at work in Maine, "Burney told the media and local officials who gathered there.

In Abilene, Tex., Mayor Gary McCaleb and mayors from 13 area cities gathered at the BFI Regional Landfill. "Forty months ago, 55 landfills were open in the Big Country region," McCaleb said. "In the last 40 months, 40 landfills have closed because of the impact of unfunded mandates, particularly Subtitle D." Austin Mayor Bruce Todd and San Marcos Mayor Kathy Morris, vice chair of NLC's Finance, Administration, and Intergovernmental Relations (FAIR) Committee, also convened press conferences in their cities and were joined by local officials from nearby communities.

The idea for a national day to protest unfunded mandates was originally conceived by the FAIR Committee at its spring meeting. The idea struck a nerve with local officials as last week's events attest.

More than two dozen city, county, and school officials joined forces in the lobby of the Richmond, Va., city hall wearing buttons that said "enough already!"

"You may know that in this region, it sometimes seems we don't agree on much," Richmond Mayor Walter Kenny said. "But, as you can see, we are united here today. This is an issue that all of our regional leaders agree on - we cannot afford to keep paying for the free-spending ways of Congress."

From Oregon to Florida and Maine to New Mexico, local officials from cities and counties of all sizes cited examples of soaring costs for unfunded mandates and shelved local priorities to make their point.

In New Mexico, Mayor Pro Tem Floyd Archudeta of Espanola and President of the New Mexico Municipal League, reported that pending mandates could cost taxpayers $30 to $75 million for wastewater treatment, $22 million for sludge treatment, $20 million annually to meet solid waste guidelines, and $4.3 million annual to test drinking water.

Leaders from both the New Mexico League of Cities and the New Mexico Association of Counties joined together for a press conference in the rotunda of the New Mexico State Capitol in Santa Fe.

At a press conference in Boise, Idaho, Mayor Brent Coles distributed a sheet showing what Boiseans will pay for federal mandates covering public works, airport operations, parks, personnel, transportation, and public safety in FY 94. The total estimated price tag - $17 million.

In Connecticut, New Haven Mayor John Daniels compared the effort on mandates day to the American revolution.

Daniels said at a press conference in New Haven convened by the Connecticut Conference of Municipalities, the Capital Region Council of Governments, and the Council of Small Towns. "Unfunded mandates are tantamount to taxation without representation - an issue which ignited a colonial revolution 200 years ago."

National Unfunded Mandates Day events in Atlanta, Georgia, drew national coverage on ABC Evening News. Mayor Maynard Jackson and members of the Atlanta City Council were joined by more than 250 local officials from the region. The Atlanta press conference was one of 10 press conferences throughout the state coordinated by the Georgia Municipal Association, Association of County Commissioners of Georgia and Georgia School Boards Association. More than 550 people participated statewide and 223 cities and 60 counties have adopted resolutions. Columbus, Ohio Mayor Greg Lashutka, chair of NLC's FAIR Committee, was also featured on the news program.

In Columbus, Mayor Lashutka raised a red flag calling for an end to unfunded mandates and then led a delegation of 28 local officials to the state capitol where they were joined by Ohio Governor George Voinovich, former President of NLC.

In several states, municipal leagues, working with county counterparts, coordinated regional press events to bring together local and county officials demonstrate the depth of their concern. Multiple press conferences were held in Colorado, Florida, Indiana, Kentucky, Kansas, Mississippi, New Mexico, and Tennessee.
COPYRIGHT 1993 National League of Cities
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1993 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

Article Details
Printer friendly Cite/link Email Feedback
Author:Becker, Christine
Publication:Nation's Cities Weekly
Date:Nov 1, 1993
Previous Article:For cities, communication merger opens door to the unknown.
Next Article:Billions of dollars, no sense; survey shows mandates' cost.

Terms of use | Copyright © 2017 Farlex, Inc. | Feedback | For webmasters