Expense analysis will help educate leaders

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, April 1, 2008

When consumers make a purchase they want to know exactly what they are getting for their money. The City of Ironton is no different.

City council — with a split vote of 4-3 — decided not to renew a contract with the Ironton-Lawrence County Community Action Organization authorizing the organization to continue to apply for and administer grants for the city.

The city has paid the CAO about $35,000 a year for the agency’s services, a value that several councilmen questioned, asking to see more information about where these dollars are being spent.

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The important thing to keep in mind is that the council isn’t necessarily saying they don’t want to continue the partnership with the CAO. Ironton’s leadership is simply saying they would like a little more information before just blindly signing the check — and that is something of which the city taxpayers should be proud.

The council plans to meet with CAO leaders in the near future to ask for more accountability and an itemized breakdown of what the city is getting for its money.

The CAO has been a strong community partner on countless projects and deserves a chance to make its case. We think the CAO’s work provides the city a solid return on its investment — but the proof will be in the numbers.

Taking a long, hard look at how Ironton is spending its money is always a good step. Hopefully, this will be the first step toward a thorough analysis of every service the city offers its residents or utilizes to provide those services.

But city leaders also need to make sure to look at each individual issue objectively and not allow personal feelings or unrelated factors to skew decisions.

Some councilmen voiced their concerns over the need for an independent economic development director, the perception that South Point gets preferential treatment over Ironton and the fact that a downtown renovation project may not meet all their expectations.

All these are valid questions to be asked and should be analyzed on their own merits. None of these items should muddy the key point: Is Ironton getting the most bang for its bucks by using the CAO for grant work?

The answer will be vital but it is equally important that our leaders took the time to ask it.