After the preliminary count from Tuesday’s election, the Portsmouth city income tax increase has failed. After additional votes are counted, that could turn around.
But here is the fundamental problem. Portsmouth city government failed to promote its campaign. They used taxpayer money to put it on the ballot, then turned around and launched no campaign at all, somehow hoping people would vote for the tax increase. No mail campaign, newspaper, radio or advertising at all. We could find no mention of the initiative on the city’s website.
Firefighters are to be commended for going door-to-door in some places, but a media campaign was never launched. We can’t figure out why they invested in the ballot and not in promoting.
As it turns out, a nine-vote margin should leave city officials asking themselves, “What could have been the outcome if we had launched a campaign?” But just as people have said at City Council meetings time and again, they have no plan.
The city is sitting on an ever-increasing budget deficit they can not figure out how to balance. So, meeting after meeting they argue over this or that, and they go home — nothing accomplished — and still ask why people don’t want to trust them with more of their hard-earned money.
City Council asks Mayor David Malone to cut 20 percent across-the-board, and bring them a balanced budget. A week later he admits he can only cut 11 percent. City officials repeatedly demonstrate how they can’t make the big decisions.
Now the post-election reality check: We have the 2010 deficit, compounded by the 2011 deficit, and we’re nearly half-way to 2012 and no light at the end of the tunnel.
We were impressed when Malone stepped out and made a decision on the traffic lights. It was refreshing to see someone make a decision. Now another decision needs to be made — a difficult one to take action to balance the budget. Anything short of that will be considered surrender. And surrender is unacceptable in both war and government.