At this morning’s Meddlers meeting the normal opening presenter from the county, Supervisor Jenifer Montgomery, was missing in action. In Montgomery’s absence, the meeting centered on Auburn Mayor Matt Spokely and the various events and upcoming changes that the city is facing.
The meeting started with a few minutes of normal chatter about a new hotel being renovated and budget information that eventually ended with ‘we just don’t have the money to accomplish such and such.’ The conversation quickly funneled into the cities leading story. A multilayered story with many different players that will ultimately affect every single citizen in the city and likely even those who live in the communities surrounding Auburn. This is the upcoming retirement of Auburn Public Safety Director John Ruffcorn and the trickling effect that it is having. Most importantly, how this move will affect the cities stance on the current model of consolidation of the fire and police departments.
Ruffcorn’s retirement announcement is so recent that the city has not begun the process of recruiting, interviewing, and selecting a replacement.
Ruffcorn, for the remainder of his term, and the next Public Safety Manager, will have to tangle with the many issues that leave the outlook, especially financially, seemingly insurmountable.
The main issue, that is proving to be much more of a road block than a simple speed bump as it is in some other cities, is the pension obligation to Auburn firefighters. That topic alone is seemingly crippling the city’s future financial stance. According to Mayor Spokely at this morning Meddlers Meeting, it is a problem that despite a great deal of time, effort and sharing of ideas, just won’t budge.
Local leaders say things like ‘there must be a city somewhere with a model that works, but so far we just haven’t been able to find it’ are leaving those who reside in the city a bit uneasy. If unchecked, there will be a point in the future where the money needed to pay pensions and the entire budget the city has to work with will meet and Auburn will be unable to make those payments.