Mayor should veto fee to allow debate

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Ironton’s voters have elected seven citizens to lead the city toward its best possible future and make the tough decisions needed, but community and citizen involvement should never end there.

It is imperative that city council makes sure that the community has public opportunities to express their views on issues that have a lasting impact for this city.

Unfortunately, that didn’t happen last week when the council renewed the municipal fee, a topic that was the subject of heated debate for months before it was adopted two years ago and was a topic for every candidate prior to the November election.

Email newsletter signup

Thankfully there is still time for Mayor Rich Blankenship to correct this error by vetoing this ordinance to allow the community a chance to offer input and feedback on what this money has been used for and whether or not the $8 per month fee should be renewed for another two years.

For something called a public safety fee

it is vital that the council keep the “public” in its name.

Instead of being read in three consecutive meetings, which would have allowed ample time to public debate and input, the measure was passed as an emergency measure at last Thursday’s meeting.

One councilman said it was handled this way because the previous municipal fee expired on Feb. 24.

So what? Sacrificing a few weeks of revenue to allow for complete transparency and public discussion seems like a small price to pay when it comes to a law that will hit residents in their pocketbooks and generate more than $500,000 a year.

If it was so urgent, council should have taken steps sooner to get the issue on the agenda and solicit public discussion.

To be fair, we do not believe council was trying to deny residents the chance to discuss the issue and were only trying to do what they thought was right.

The mayor has yet to sign this ordinance and can step up to veto this motion and then council could allow public debate.

Let’s be very clear. We believe that renewing this fee is a needed step for the city, if combined with some belt-tightening, economic development focus and other examinations of every facet of how the city operates.

Renewing the fee is the right thing to do but it has to be handled the right way. And that is after allowing public input.