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Council again fails to do what is needed

For months we urged the Ironton City Council to discuss fully its options for helping overcome the impending financial catastrophe.

We cautioned against simply throwing money at the problem without first knowing exactly how bad the problem actually was and what steps had been made to trim spending in areas that could be trimmed.

Then, after much debate - incessant debate - a little name-calling and a little verbal hair pulling, the consensus seemed to emerge that some kind of across-the-board municipal fee would be necessary to keep the city afloat.

While one side initially proposed a $15-per-month, per household fee and the other side favored a wait-and-see attitude, we eventually said the city should immediately add a $7.50-per-month fee that would expire in three years, and then ask voters if they wanted to hand over an extra $7.50.

Doing something immediately would put the city back on solid financial ground and allow the city leaders some time to get down to business and discuss the city's future with its citizens. Having a temporary fee in place would do so without having to decide in the midst of a highly emotional state of knowing the city is about to be bankrupt.

Last week, the city council again debated the issue and despite some change in the way certain council members voted, the option was shot down when Councilman Chuck O'Leary, who at one time was an ardent proponent that a fee be passed immediately, voted against it because, in his words the timing "seems pretty suspect."

Instead of passing the revenue Band-Aid that almost all the members agree is needed, the council passed a resolution to place a $10 fee option on the November ballot for voters to decide. Throwing the issue onto a ballot already clogged with other options - from statewide development bonds to an Ironton school levy - may be tantamount to just killing the possibility entirely.

A frustrated Mayor John Elam summed up our thoughts when he said, "Do something."

We think that "something" is not to simply side step the responsibility and hand the decision over to the voters, but rather do what needs to be done to prevent Ironton's going broke - again.

"We need to tell the people when the streetlights are going to go out, when the departments are going to shut down," Elam said at Thursday's meeting.

Mr. Mayor, we hope you're wrong, but we fear you are not.