By Councilmembers Julie Killian and Kirstin Bucci
We have shared the City Council dais with these two gentlemen since 2014. Although the four of us ran together four years ago, we often don’t agree. The search for common ground is sometimes easy, sometimes arduous, but always essential. Either way, working with Joe Sack and Terry McCartney is rewarding, because they approach the wide variety of issues before the Council with curiosity, humility, and concern for all of the citizens of our community.
Securing the Long-Term Financial Health of Rye
The City’s financial position is strong.
- The City’s debt of $11 million is less than half of its 2007 peak of $25 million under then-Mayor Steve Otis.
- Council maintained reserves of $5 million, roughly 15% of the operating budget, which is high for a municipality.
- Rye’s 2016 financial audit was “clean” without even one deficiency. This is notable because the City carried numerous control deficiencies for years. This Council rectified those deficiencies, systematically addressing each one, thereby ensuring the accuracy of the City’s financials.
- Council instituted a policy that real estate purchases of more than $1 million must go to public vote. This check on the Council’s authority requires public approval for the purchase of ANY property above $1 million.
<Ask yourself, could people who deliver this financial picture be fiscally irresponsible?>
Inviting Diversity of Opinion
By 2014, Rye Golf Club was perilously close to financial ruin with $1 million in reserves and a $200K+ annual deficit. Joe Sack, new to the mayoral post, created a task force to fix the golf club, including a wide variety of stakeholders including Councilman Terry McCartney.
The process was messy and at times uncomfortable and required an untold number of meetings. Mayor Sack never shied away from incorporating everyone’s perspectives and instinctively knew that including people in the process was the best way to restore trust and establish buy-in for whatever solution the group ultimately endorsed. Outsourcing the restaurant and hiring excellent club management allowed RGC to survive a tumultuous period and emerge stronger.
Joe has repeated this approach throughout his tenure, consistently including viewpoints different than his own in the search for the best answer for Rye. Why does a commitment to inviting diverse opinions matter? Because Rye will undoubtedly face new challenges in the years to come. One important project, in its nascent stages, is the Master Plan. Here again, Joe has appointed numerous people with competing views to the Master Plan Task Force, on purpose. It’s comforting to know that a wide variety of opinions will be considered and no special interest group will hijack the process.
Finding the Best Solution
In each issue before the Council, Joe and Terry have worked tirelessly to determine the best outcome for all 16,000 Rye residents. It may sound corny, but it’s true and it’s imperative. The Council is obligated to ask questions, seek information, and remain neutral before making a decision so that we do what is right for the City, not for us personally or our friends. That’s what is best for Rye and that’s what Joe and Terry have repeatedly accomplished on various issues including RGC, rock chipping legislation, two zoning changes, creating the commissioner of public safety position, deer management solutions, resolving a long outstanding contract dispute with our police department, and a speed limit pilot project to enhance public safety.
We have no doubt that Joe Sack and Terry McCartney and their running mates, Elizabeth Parks and Susan Watson, will be committed to the City’s long-term financial health and they will invite diversity of opinion in seeking the best solutions for all of Rye.