City must now listen to voters

Published 11:15 am Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Although the margin was only 112 votes, Ironton voters sent a message by voting down the long-standing recreation levy. Now it is up to the city to listen.

The levy, which was a replacement, was handled poorly as the city did next to nothing to promote it, essentially taking for granted that it would be approved. That was a fatal mistake and a lesson that should have been learned several years ago when voters nixed the floodwall levy.

But the silver lining in this is that it should force city leaders to do what we had already suggested, and that is reevaluate what the recreation department offers and to whom.

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Rather than simply trying to put it on the ballot again, we hope to see the recreation department reinvent itself, maybe getting back to its roots of serving a wider demographic, and the city take a hard look at what can be accomplished without the levy.

A significant portion of the approximately $65,000 per year the levy generated was simply used to cut grass at the city’s parks. Is this something that Judge Clark Collins’ community service workers can do? We certainly think so. The judge has done a good job over the years of using this program to benefit the community and this would likely be no different.

Before a revised recreation levy goes on the ballot the city should ask residents what they would like to see.

Maybe it is better parks. Or perhaps adults would like opportunities to participate in sports such as baseball or softball. Maybe citizens would like to see a clearly defined breakdown of what the levy would pay for and why.

The city shouldn’t look at this as a defeat but instead, as a message that it is time to make some changes.