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City needs to refocus on Municipal Finance 101

Most of you have already heard that despite the serious salary cuts and layoffs of city workers, Ironton continues just to get by financially.

What has happened to plunge us from a surplus a few years ago to where we are today? Inflation is the main reason.

The cost of goods and services has gone up faster than the revenue generated by the fees and city income taxes. The state government’s reduction of the apportionment of state income tax back to counties and other local municipalities is another reason.

Aging of the population with the resulting retirement from the workforce results in a decrease in city income tax revenue.

Though the effect may be small, added to the increase in costs due to inflation and the reduction in state aid, the overall effect has resulted in where we are today.

Since the ‘50’s, we have lost 5,000-6,000 in population, more than a thousand of them wage earners and contributors through their payment of taxes and stimulation of trade and economic activity. Too bad they didn’t take one-third of the streets, water and sewer lines with them. We still have that infrastructure to maintain and it is aging along with us.

In the long run, I suppose growth is the answer.

The mayor, the Friends of Ironton, Ironton in Bloom, the Ironton-Lawrence County Community Action Organization and the Ironton Port Authority are all working very hard on projects to bring jobs to Ironton and a hotel and retail to the Ninth and Vernon streets area, and to improve the attractiveness of Ironton as a destination for tourism, as a place to start/locate a business, and as a place to live.

But we each have very limited budgets.

We have advertised the former Ironton Iron site nationally and internationally and have had serious discussions with several interested parties, but no takers yet.

We continue to press and remain hopeful. In order to appeal to a larger market, we are looking at bundling several industrial properties on South Third Street into larger parcels with access to river, rail and road transportation.

I don’t have the answer but I hope some of you have ideas you would care to share.

It’s your town, especially you younger readers. We would all like to have your suggestions and/or perspectives on current conditions and a way ahead.

Send your thoughts to the mayor, or to me [Paul Woods, IPA, 301 S. Third St, Ironton, OH 45638 or woodspf@yahoo.com] and I’ll review and pass them on as appropriate.

Meanwhile, ‘Shop Ironton’ whenever you can!

 

Paul Woods is chairman of the Ironton Port Authority.