Editor’s Note: The following is an opinion piece written by Robert Rehberg, a frequent associate of the Journal. The following is his own opinions and does not necessarily reflect the opinions of The Albany Journal or its management.
If you want to get my attention, just say two words: “tax increase”. Yet, while those living in other counties are hearing it more often now, we in Lee have been fortunate to skirt an increase for years– and it is no accident. Rather, I attribute our “better” financial position largely to Bill Williams. You see, Lee has what all counties would like to have in a Commissioner–a person who audits and advises local governments on financial management matters for a living.
Governments are strange creatures conducting public business in strange ways at times. From a financial management perspective, accounting in general, and budget formulation in particular, it is very different from what goes on in private business—ask any auditor. Hence, routine access to a person with “real world” experience gained from working daily with a variety of these strange creatures can pay big dividends. For years, we have benefited from what other counties pay for—professional financial management services–at the price of a Commissioner’s salary.
Before election, Bill Williams reviewed a proposed Lee budget and found a $1.6 million error, as we were recently reminded in an Albany Herald article “Ledo Land Deal Still Impacts Lee”. Reading it also reminded us of the expensive land deal made by the county, also before he ran for office, a deal with long term financial implications we still live with. A deal that perhaps Williams could have influenced to a better conclusion had he been in office at the time.
Let’s also remember that since he was elected, we have not had a tax increase while reserves have increased, largely due to his impact on county financial matters. There are things we don’t always see in the day-to-day conduct of business but which really have an impact on the “bottom line”–and our pocketbook.
Williams’s opponent in the upcoming election, Greg Frich, has earned a reputation that without question makes him a worthy contender for the Redbone seat. If in my district, he would have my support with no reservation. But this is a “head to head” race with Bill Williams and the outcome has the potential to impact the entire county for years to come. It should not be a popularity contest or a protest of the “Great Garbage Billing Debacle” that all Commissioners supported—much more is at stake in this race.
So, I support Bill Williams who does best what Lee needs most…and can hopefully guide us through the tough financial times ahead. This is not the time to “switch horses” and lose the big “edge” we have over other cities and counties—a person on the payroll who actually works daily in financial management matters.
Years ago, I shut a car door on my 4-year old son’s finger. “Robert”, I profusely apologized, “I am so sorry”. With tears in his eyes, he looked up at me, and said “Dad, it’s too late for sorry!” Well, as the lad reminded me then, sometimes events occur in life that cannot be undone—it’s too late for sorry. Let’s don’t find ourselves in that position. Reelect Bill Williams, please.