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Ironton#039;s future depends on working compromise

The Ironton City Council popped the relief valve on Monday by passing a temporary, one-month budget.

OK, so now the pressure of the impending deadline is delayed a bit. So can we actually get down to work and make some progress on the issue?

The choice seems relatively simple. We can do nothing or we can do something. If we do nothing, nothing is likely to change. The city will continue to spend more than it brings in until it is eventually bankrupt. At that point, the state will come in and take over. Sound familiar? It should. That scenario played out in Ironton during the 1980s.

Or we can do something about the budget. Obviously, the latter of the two options is the best.

But that's when the tough work begins: What do we actually do? The two sides remain apart on how best to proceed.

Should we impose what is essentially an across-the-board tax, or municipal fee, to all citizens? Should we take a serious look at the city's expenditures and make business-like decisions on how best to spend taxpayers' dollars? We'll propose a novel approach: Do both.

If Ironton is truly to excel, not just "get by" we need to figure out where we're going and how we're going to get there. And that will take a little vision. We firmly believe that both sides in the debate believe they have the best interest of the city residents at heart, just different approaches.

The municipal fees have been discussed, discussed and discussed some more. The two sides have, we believe, agreed to some kind of a fee, but disagree on an amount. Let's split the difference. With the current versions under discussion, that would mean a fee in the neighborhood of $7.50 per month.

That amount is less than one side thinks we need and more than the other side wants to impose. Then, with that done - and this is a critical part - the council must work with the mayor's office to appropriate only what is absolutely needed. Conversely, the mayor's office must continue his work to streamline services, even if that means making tough, perhaps unpopular, decisions.

If that means the city reallocates its resources to more effectively serve and protect, the residents will certainly sleep better at night and be more content when they go to the voting booth again.

Something needs to be done, soon, and that something is called a compromise.