Tuesday, Jan. 7, 2014 | 2:03 a.m.
One fundamental principle of democracy is that the public has the right to know the truth. Tragically, in North Las Vegas, we were lied to and we did not get the truth. Nobody likes to be lied to.
During the campaign, I promised as mayor I would untangle the financial mess and uncover the hidden financial practices many people suspected were going on at City Hall.
Over the past few weeks, we have uncovered significant problems with past financial representations and accounting practices engaged in by the city. North Las Vegas has not been honest with its citizens. These misguided financial practices included hiding the facts from policymakers, concealing rates in financial models, taxing without properly informing ratepayers and dishonestly representing our financial condition.
More than $200 million has been looted from the utility fund, depleting it to unsafe and catastrophic levels concealed from the public. During the past legislative session, our city misrepresented its financial condition and spent hundreds of thousands of dollars lobbying to pass legislation in order to keep up the illusion of this disastrous financial shell game.
Although frustrated and troubled by these findings, the City Council is committed to changing the direction, beginning with an honest discussion of where we are. As a Boy Scout leader, I have taught many young men how to navigate with a map and compass. The first step to using a map is finding where you are on the map; only then can you begin charting a course to your destination.
We are replacing yesterday’s doubt, confusion and mistrust with openness and accountability. People voted for the promise of a better tomorrow, and I am committed to build a community they deserve. This begins by changing the way we do business in North Las Vegas. Over the past few months, there have been many changes in the city’s management, ending the era of governance by crisis and beginning a new era of openness and accountability.
Last month, we released the annual audit report, which included unprecedented disclosures of the financial practices used in the past budget. This week, for the first time in our city’s history, we will release a seven-year financial forecast. This historic step presents an honest roadmap of what policymakers need to do to avoid financial disaster by ending years of bumbling financial policies that put our community on the brink.
Although we are angry at the level of deception, we are committed to restoring our community’s trust in City Hall and determined to solve our financial crisis. My commitment to improving the quality of life for everyone in our community begins with the honest discussion of our exact financial position so we can begin plotting our path to financial stability.
John Lee is the mayor of North Las Vegas.