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SCARE TACTICS: Truth Detector

IMG_2260+Anderson-City-Building-PANIC

UPDATE:  Click Here to Find Your Voting Location Site: at the Indiana Secretary of State website.

PANIC MODE SWEEPS ANDERSON CITY HALL

  • Mayor: Claims 3,000 New Jobs, Crime Down
  • FEDS: Unemployment Rate Up, Population Down, 10th Most Dangerous City
Anderson Mayor Kevin S. Smith (R)

Anderson Mayor Kevin S. Smith (R)

Facing an unexpected strong challenge from conservative Republican Heather Prophet, Anderson Mayor Kevin S. Smith has launched an all-out effort to win a third term. Smith’s campaign appears to have gone into panic mode in an attempt to address the issues raised by Prophet. Local residents have reported receiving Smith’s campaign literature, even though they live outside of Anderson’s city limits and cannot vote in the city election.

Heather Prophet, Republican candidate for Anderson Mayor

Heather Prophet, Republican candidate for Anderson Mayor

Prophet and three city council candidates raised concerns about lackluster job creation, high tax and utility rates, and the size of the city’s debt. Smith’s campaign responded through direct mail and the local news media, touting his record on job creation, public safety, and infrastructure. He has also attempted to explain away the city’s $156 million debt load.

Smith on City Debt

"Misleading at best," Anderson City Controller Jason Fenwick said in response to debt figures provided by the state of Indiana.

“Misleading at best,” Anderson City Controller Jason Fenwick said in response to debt figures provided by the state of Indiana.

CLAIM

Members of both Smith’s campaign and his administration scrambled last week to address the debt issue. They responded quizzically with debt figures ranging from $6,000,000 to $96,000,000 to $156,000,000. Smith used city controller Jason Fenwick to respond to the debt issue in an April 23 article in the Herald Bulletin. Fenwick was quoted as saying that Prophet’s $156,000,000 debt figure was “misleading at best.”

REALITY

The debt figure comes from the Indiana Department of Local Government Finance and is easily viewable on its Report Builder web site.

Smith on Unemployment

unemployment & homelessness

CLAIM

On the jobs issue, Smith is claiming a 33% reduction in unemployment.

REALITY

The U.S. Census Bureau’s Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) has released final 2014 unemployment numbers for Anderson. The BLS reports Anderson’s unemployment rose to 6.9% and is now 17% higher than the Indiana average and 23% higher than the U.S. average. Between September and the end of the year, 293 more Anderson residents found themselves on the unemployment line. The bureau also reports that the Anderson area is the only Indy metro location losing population.

Smith on Job Creation

A man drives a forklift truck

CLAIM

On Friday, Mayor Kevin Smith’s campaign claimed the mayor recruited over 3,000 new jobs to Anderson.

REALITY

According to the Indiana Department of Revenue, the number of Anderson and Madison County residents travelling to Hamilton, Delaware, Hancock and Grant counties for jobs increased 2.5 percent. Indiana University’s Kelly School of Business reports that over 16,500 residents are now commuting outside the county for work. The growth of jobs in neighboring counties being filled by Anderson residents is helping to keep residents employed.

Smith on City Finances

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CLAIM

The Mayor claimed this week that he eliminated a $1.4 million budget deficit left by the previous administration.

REALITY

Smith failed to mention a 2011 State of Indiana mathematical error that shorted the city nearly $2.5 million prior to his arrival. When the State corrected the error, the city received a windfall payment of the money during Smith’s early months of his second term. The payment was intended to compensate taxpayers for property tax rate increases caused by the error.

Smith on Balanced Budgets

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CLAIM

Smith’s campaign claims three years of balanced city budgets.

REALITY

The city failed to approve a budget timely during 2013, and has passed a 47% water rate increase being implemented this month, along with several electricity increases, including a 9% increase effective this month as well. Smith’s final general fund budget before the property tax cap was $35.3 million, over $5 million higher than former Mayor Kris Ockomon’s final general fund budget of $30.0 million after the caps.

Smith on the Bond Rating

bonds and investments

CLAIM

The mayor claims a city bond rating increase from A- to A+.

REALITY

Anderson’s rating remains far short of the AA+ rating of other surrounding cities. The bond agency increased its rating only after city officials passed the utility rate hikes on residents.

Smith on Crime Statistics

fingerprint

CLAIM

The mayor claims crime has decreased by 15%.

REALITY

The FBI’s most recent data reports 199 violent crimes (murder, rape, and robbery) and 3,072 property crimes (theft and burglary), annually. The Herald Bulletin reported Oct. 5, 2014 that Anderson ranks as the 10th most dangerous city in Indiana. Indianapolis and Anderson are the only two central Indiana communities to make the list.

Smith on Gang Activity

graffiti

Smith: “(Police) are saying they have not said that there are gangs or gang activity going on.”

CLAIM

A string of shootings this spring that the police department classified as gang-related was disputed by Smith.

REALITY

Friction between the police department and mayor’s office has increased during the recent months. When the Herald Bulletin asked him if the city had a gang task force, he said that Anderson Police Chief Larry Crenshaw and his assistants “are saying they have not said that there are gangs or gang activity going on.”

Smith’s disagreement with the police department was highlighted when gang-related charges were later filed against the suspects in Madison County Court.

During the aftermath of a still-unsolved murder at an Anderson barber shop on Thanksgiving morning 2014, Smith spent the evening launching his revamped Facebook “fan” page as Indianapolis television news media of WTHR, WRTV, WXIN, and WISH were reporting on residents’ safety concerns. Smith’s aloofness to crime developments increased concerns that the mayor isn’t taking crime seriously.

Smith on Street Paving & Road Maintenance

Anderson city street paving project

An Anderson city paving crew tackles a street.

CLAIM

The mayor claimed in a flyer that Anderson’s roads have been improved and the city beautified.

REALITY

Comments on social media over the past several weeks have challenged the mayor on his spending priorities. On Friday, one Anderson resident replied to the mayor on Facebook saying, “I think I would have worked on the city streets leading to those beautiful places before I built them. Use the tax money wisely. I drive a school bus and the children bounce to and from school every day because our streets are in such poor condition.”

Another resident said, “I’m all for beautification but our streets are terrible. I have to take the long way around just to get home so I won’t ruin my tires and rims.”

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{ 3 comments… add one }

  • Dennis Walsh Sunday, October 11, 2015, 8:36 pm

    During our early Summer rains my basement flooded I have this on video if interested. The response from the Mayor’s office is they are not responsible for water backing up into my basement from the sewers. Why are we paying the assessment monthy only to have the sewers in the north end not adequately carrying on the water away from our home not into our homes. The woman heading up the sanitation department asked me if my lines were blacked, waht a stupid question if they were blocked would the water have flowed freely into my basement for well over an hour. That’s our leadership. Not impressed!

  • Jordon Driffill Monday, May 4, 2015, 5:58 pm

    The city roads are terrible. Pot holes damaging cars and tires all around the City of Anderson.

  • Larry Goins Monday, May 4, 2015, 10:56 am

    We just moved to Anderson about 7 months ago and the streets are the worse city streets that I have ever driven on. In my opinion they have wasted way too much money on patching that they knew would not last past the next rain or snow fall. If you fix them correctly the first time….You won’t have to go out next week and re-fix them.

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