Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Budget-slashing councilman's spending on newsletter draws criticism

Though the Jacksonville City Council has reduced spending in recent years on certain mailings to constituents, one of the body's most fiscal conservatives spent $3,600 last month mailing a newsletter to residents of his district.

Last summer, as the council's president, Richard Clark led the call to reduce government spending. However, Clark said the newsletter he sent to 8,600 homes in June is a necessary expense that the council should be doing more of, not less.

"It's one of the single most important things I can do to communicate with the constituency in my district," he said. "I get more people calling, more people stopping me in the grocery store thanking me for the newsletter."

Clark, one of 14 district council members in the body of 19, was the only council member to use taxpayer dollars to send a newsletter in the past three years.

The other district council members write columns in community publications and hold town hall meetings as a means of communicating with constituents. The town hall meetings are generally publicized through postcards that also are paid for using taxpayer dollars, but cheaper than a newsletter.

The council's postcard spending has also decreased in recent years.

During the 2007-08 fiscal year, $5,530.90 in postcards were ordered. The next year, $1,804.50 was spent on postcards.

So far, the council has spent $1,012.90 on postcards for the 2009-10 fiscal year that ends in September.

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