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City should not use #039;gift#039; as excuse for inaction

We've always heard people say, "It's not the gift that is important; it's the thought that counts."

We were reminded of that thought this week after Ironton Municipal Judge O. Clark Collins Jr. made a "gift" to the city.

Perhaps using the word "gift" is not exactly the most correct way of putting it.

Collins announced late last week that he planned on giving $100,000 in funds to the city of Ironton. The money was saved in a fund earmarked for technical upgrades, which may be needed soon, but Collins felt as though the city needed the immediate cash more than the court needed the technology improvements.

For most of us, receiving a $100,000 surprise would be akin to winning the Ohio lottery. It would be money from heaven. Unfortunately, for the City of Ironton, the funds are only a fraction of the total the city needs to offset its growing financial deficit.

But no matter how you look at it, Collins' heart appears to be in the right place - concerned for the public. His "gift" should serve as an example for other public officials - from all aspects of local government - to follow.

A key part often overlooked by some folks when dealing with public funds is the proper application of the word "public." It shouldn't mean that anyone in the public can simple grabs what he or she needs and use it how they wish. It should be about what's best for the whole.

The needs of many should almost always outweigh the needs of the few or the one. That's a lesson Collins knows well and one we wish all of our local leaders could learn.

Unfortunately, some city leaders might look at Collins' gift as a way to avoid dealing with the impending fiscal problems. In other words, slap a $100,000 bandage over the wound and things suddenly look a little healthier.

Peek beneath the bandage, however, and the wound still exists.

We hope the city takes the $100,000 surprise for what it is: A generous return of public money to where it is needed most.

But we also hope they do not use that gift as an excuse to stall in working together to build a fair, financial plan for the future.