No one wants to discuss #8216;Plan B#039; so how about #8216;Plan C#039;?
Published 12:00 am Monday, October 17, 2005
In a little more than three weeks, Ironton voters will head to the polls and decide how the city should spend residents' hard-earned tax dollars.
The most confusing part of trying to decide which little box to punch on the ballot is figuring out the exact ramifications of each punch.
You won't see a set of instructions or an explanation of why something is important or how a new tax or fee will be applied.
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Take, for example, the much-ballyhooed $10 municipal fee that will be the Ironton ballot.
This newspaper has published more than 100 articles in which the phrase ”municipal fee“ has appeared.
News reporters have tried to report the ”why“ part of the ongoing city finance woes.
The reason: the city is quickly going broke. Currently, the city is spending more than it expects to bring in, living off its ”carryover“ or, in personal terms, its small savings account.
Unfortunately, with no massive influx of cash on the horizon, the long-anticipated financial D-Day is near.
So the city leaders have discussed and fussed over what to do. Ultimately the city council decided to simply let the voters make the decision by putting the municipal fee on the ballot and asking them to decide.
But what happens if the proposed fee fails?
What's ”Plan B?“
This newspaper has asked that numerous times and we're still not sure that ”Plan B“ exists, or if it does, the folks who created it don't want to talk about it.
So, since no one else will talk about ”Plan B“ let's talk about ”Plan C“ - C as in Cooper.
First, let's stop whispering in the background about cutting out the Ironton Fire Department and converting to a mostly volunteer agency. That shouldn't be a consideration until all other avenues are exhausted. Having solid police and fire protection are key to having a city in the first place, not to mention what such a plan might do to homeowners' insurance.
Have we - and I'm using that term collectively to speak about the city as a whole - taken a serious look at city staffing? Can we merge together a few department heads?
From where I sit, it seems we have lots of public works administrators, but I've only actually seen one actually outside doing anything. Perhaps the others are busy ”administrating“ somewhere.
What about generating some revenue without taxing people?
The city's code enforcement officer admitted to the city council some time back that in several years of working in that position, not a single case had been cited into court.
Now that last sentence might need a little more explanation. The city has tons of laws on the books that aim to prevent property owners from letting their property fall into disrepair or public health and safety concerns.
Each morning, I'd wager that I drive by at least a dozen violations on my way to work. So why haven't these folks been taken to court? What effect would their potential fees have made on the city's finances? The side benefit, of course, would be having a few dozen less eyesores littering the landscape.
Speaking of citations, do the city police write traffic citations? A couple of officers have told me that some of their fellow officers have never written any. It's apparently just not a priority. What would changing that mean to the city's bottom line?
Are we working aggressively to change from a ”that's always the way we've done it“ mentality to a ”that's the right way to do it“ one? An example might be in health care costs. Currently, some city workers pay only a tiny fraction of their health insurance costs. You and I pay the rest.
If we can't talk about ”Plan B“ why don't we discuss ”Plan C“ - or D, E and F?
I'll vote for the municipal fee on Nov. 8 because I know the city needs money to survive, and I hope that if the current folks in position to make a change don't do so, that the influx of cash from the fees will keep things together until a new group can get in position.
I'll vote ”yes“ on the fee, but I'd bet more people would punch the ”yes“ box if they knew the money was going to a good cause, not to support folks who may not be absolutely necessary, who may not be doing their jobs and who aren't already paying their share.
Kevin Cooper is publisher of The Ironton Tribune. He can be reached at (740) 532-1441 ext. 12 or by e-mail to email@example.com.