Heroes or cowards? Council must decide

Published 12:00 am Thursday, August 25, 2005

Everyone wants to be a hero. Sometimes that means going to war for your country. Sometimes that means pulling a little old lady from a burning building. Sometimes that means doing what is right, regardless of what people will say.

Tonight, each member of the Ironton City Council has the chance to be a hero.

We urge all the members to step up, do what they were elected to do, make the right decision about creating some much-needed revenue and save the city in the process.

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Is it a tall task that will likely bring much agonizing and heartache? Probably. The alternative - doing nothing and asking the people to make the decisions you were chosen to make - will bring far worse consequences.

For more than two years we have heard the city's financial experts make the doomsday predictions: "The city is going to soon be broke." That has never changed nor wavered. Right now, if spending stays the same, the city will be bankrupt early next year.

Debate over some form of municipal fee has raged on for at least a year, if not longer. Sides have shifted and changed some but not nearly as much as the incarnations of the fee itself. The structure has ranged anywhere from $3 to $20 but has always had the same purpose - keeping the city solvent.

Right now, only two options remain open. One - approve a $7 fee tonight to stop the bleeding - will at least give the city time to start looking at more drastic ways to cut costs or raise revenue. All the easy ways have been exhausted unless residents want to say goodbye to their police or fire departments.

When added to other recent fees that have been implemented, this new fee likely will burden some residents and may be a dangerous strain on an already tight budget. But the alternative, allowing the entire city to crumble and cease to offer the basic necessities of police, fire, water and sewer services cannot be an option.

The needs of the many must outweigh the needs of the few. And, honestly, $7 is not enough but it will have to do for now.

The other option - waste two more valuable months and ask the voters to approve a $10 fee - is simply the coward's way out of making a real decision. Nearly every man on the city council will agree that the city desperately needs the revenue or it will perish. Whether or not residents "want" to pay more becomes irrelevant just for the pure sake of survival.

Taking the issue to the polls completely erodes the power council was given by those same voters. What if residents vote no on a fee? That will not lessen the need. It will only make it nearly impossible to adopt one and save the city.

Now is the time gentlemen. The choice is clear. Do you want to be heroes or cowards?