Dauphin Island: Honesty, Integrity, Transparency
After fellow candidate Shawn Perloff and I received a multitude of requests from our supporters to attend the forum hosted by the Dauphin Island Chamber of Commerce, we jointly decided to adhere to their requests. Below is the introduction I presented at last night’s forum.
I am Virginia Shanahan. I am an internal auditor and an associate member of the Certified Fraud Examiners Association.
For months now, my campaign has attempted to obtain critical financial information from our Town. It is now obvious why the Town has consistently attempted to keep this information from my campaign, and more importantly has failed to disclose this information to you.
In 2007, our town had very little debt.
In 2010, our town had accumulated a debt of over $5 million. That’s right: $5 million! That is almost double our Town’s base annual budget.
The Town’s consistent refusal to release more information prevents me, and you, from knowing what our Town’s current debt is. However, I did learn the following:
In 2008, the Town took out a warrant of $2.3 million to purchase the West End Beach. What is a warrant? A warrant is a loan that is backed by the Town’s promise to exercise their power to tax our property in order to repay the loan.
The following year, the Town received a $2 million CIAP grant intended to reimburse the Town for the purchase of the beach, yet the warrant was not paid off.
Our town obtained a total of $4.3 million dollars, from two separate entities, to buy the same piece of property, which only cost $1.75 million. What happened to the $2.55 million that was not used to purchase the beach?
In 2011, the Town borrowed more money in order to pay a large debt the Town could not honor. In the new loan, the town borrowed more money than was required and treated the extra money as revenue on the budget. This gave a false appearance of good financial health.
Are you aware of the Town’s Aloe Bay Project? It came from the 2008 Strategic Plan. The Town has been quietly accumulating massive debt in order to purchase this valuable waterfront property, thereby removing it from the private sector and eliminating yet another vital tax base for the town.
Now, let’s touch on the Restore Act. Your next mayor will be on the 10 –seat Alabama Gulf Coast Recovery Council handling millions, possibly billions, of dollars. We will be facing tough opponents from Mobile and Baldwin County, and your next mayor will have to have the financial education, experience, and savvy to keep other political forces from taking more than their fair share. I am that person!
In closing, let me state some have been told that my “lack of experience in a government office” is an issue. Our current elected leaders who want you to think that are the very same career politicians who have buried our town in debt.
Our town needs new leadership. We need a financially responsible government. I assure you, unlike our current administration, I will be responsible with and accountable for your money.
As your mayor, my goals will be basic: Strong leadership / More information / Accountability