Wait a minute, haven#039;t I already seen this movie?

Published 12:00 am Sunday, October 3, 2004

The City of Ironton unknowingly has created a great Hollywood comedy film script. Unfortunately, the film has already been made - "Groundhog Day."

The 1993 film, starring comedian Bill Murray, tells the fanciful story about Murray's character who finds himself waking up each morning stuck on the same day, Groundhog Day.

Ironton's script doesn't star a big name Hollywood type, but instead the mayor and members of the city council.

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Centering on the now much ballyhooed municipal fee, the plot goes like this:

Scene 1: Councilman (insert one of a couple of names here) puts a version of the municipal fee ($10, $5, $3, or $10 with complicated rebate plan) onto the council's agenda.

Scene 2: Council members show up for the meeting, draw imaginary lines in the air between them and proceed to discuss - and sometimes argue - about the benefits and sins of the municipal fee.

Scene 3: Council votes and the plan fails to be approved.

Scene 4: One week or so later, repeat Scene 1 again.

And the cycle continues, with no apparent end in sight.

A sizable group of residents came to some of the early council meetings during which this was first discussed. It appeared the majority of those citizens supported the original, $10 fee.

Critics of the fees will point out that a good majority of those people were also in support of the fee in hopes it would re-fund laid off sanitation workers.

That was never the case, despite hinting by some folks to the contrary.

The funding such a fee would create was originally intended to help offset an expected budget deficit.

In other words, it was already earmarked to make the city solvent, which is always an admirable goal.

Rather than continuing to bicker about it, why doesn't the city invest in a bit of research? Couldn't we either mail out a survey or even print a short question on the city's water bills and ask water consumers to voice their opinions.

Such a venture wouldn't be purely scientific, but it would certainly be more decisive than what we've got right now - a broken record of no action.

In the film "Groundhog Day," Murray's character, Phil Connors, at first managed to use the repetitive days to his personal advantage.

Similarities between the film and the city's reality are pretty evident. The fans and foes of the municipal fee may be offering opinions based on their own benefits.

In the film, however, Murray eventually learned that he was looking at the world incorrectly. Once he started treating other people nicely, Murray's constantly repeating days ended. He'd learned his lesson.

Let's hope the city soon learns this lesson and decides once and for all the fate of the municipal fee.

"Groundhog Day" was a good film - the first time I saw it.

Kevin Cooper is publisher of The Ironton Tribune. He can be reached at (740) 532-1445 ext.12 or by e-mail to kevin.cooper@irontontribune.com.