[EDITOR’S NOTEThe following is a Letter to the Editor, submitted by a verified resident. It does not necessarily reflect the opinions of South King Media, nor its staff:]

UPDATE APRIL 5, 2024: Susan White submitted the following correction to this Letter to the Editor:

“It’s been brought to my attention that I slightly miscalculated the percentage of tax increase the City Council is trying to impose on us because they miscalculated their 2024 budget.  The increase is ONLY 55 percent, not 64 percent.  There, I fixed my error . . now my question to them: When are they going to admit and take responsibility for their’s? They should scrub the budget BEFORE asking for  a bail-out  and burden on the citizen’s of Des Moines for more taxes!

A 64 55 percent tax increase because the Des Moines City Council won’t do its job!

For the past eight years, the council majority has repeatedly lectured us about how City Manager Michael Matthias saved the city with his superior budgeting skills and that we should be more grateful as they jacked his salary up to nearly $300,000 per year.

After his final budget, we discover he played us the whole time. Matthias turned the huge utility tax increase back in 2016 into a gaping $1.7 million shortfall — even after squandering $9.1 million in American Rescue Plan Act funding.

Now, before actually examining our financial situation and scrubbing the budget to find other fat and waste, the council is moving at breakneck speed to make the public pay for its mismanagement.

The council has two primary responsibilities: hiring the city manager and approving a budget. They failed miserably at both, and who gets stuck with the bill? We do!

In reassigning Matthias last fall, former Mayor Matt Mahoney told us we need to “pivot.” This is his pivot: bilk the taxpayers for the former city manager’s mismanagement.

Instead of holding him accountable, the council majority needlessly handed Matthias a $450,000 golden parachute. Was the reassignment because Matthias exceeded his $50,000 spending authority during the Water District 54 shutdown and handed out $175,000 in gifts that should have been covered by the Water District’s insurance instead?

Why didn’t they fire him for cause? They say they were trying to avoid a lawsuit. He deserves no retirement.

But this council understands our fear about public safety. The council is rushing to place a levy lid-lift proposal on the August Primary ballot, calling it necessary for public safety. They are doing it before first belt-tightening and letting us see if they are inept in hiring the next city manager.

That’s backward. We shouldn’t have to pay for the council’s lack of attention so they can continue wasting money on dubious projects such as the non-money-making Marina Steps, the money-losing passenger ferry, and a memorial park smack in the middle of one of the city’s busiest intersections.

Not one cent until the council starts doing its job.

– Susan White
Des Moines, WA

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One reply on “LETTER TO THE EDITOR: Former City Councilmember says ‘A 64 percent tax increase because the Des Moines City Council won’t do its job!’”

  1. Completely agree with you, Susan. I worked to promote the first levy-lid lift, which failed, and actively opposed the second one ~2008, as it was poorly-timed and unnecessary. I have no interest in paying for this council’s failure to claw-back the over-payments to Matthias, or their inability to govern responsibly.

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