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Ironton In Bloom not asking for funds

After reading the recent Tribune editorial regarding the discussion of the inclusion of an expenditure line item within the city budget for “Streetscape,” it appears the writer did not have full information regarding this issue. I realize this may have been difficult since that discussions evolved over a nearly two month series of meetings with the mayor and council.

First and foremost, it should be made clear that the recommendation made by the Ironton in Bloom organization was to develop a line item in the city Budget for “streetscape” and not “Ironton in Bloom Operations.” Those familiar with government realize that the city cannot put another non-government operation into the city budget. However, once funds are allocated to a budget item, the city administration is then charged, utilizing the most efficient means possible, to carry out the activities of that budget line item, either within dedicated city operations and/or through contract(s) with outside venders.

To clarify what was apparently missed by the writer of the recent editorial, Ironton in Bloom this year was approached by the city to take on the planting and maintenance of an additional area of streetscape at Etna Park after it became evident that the city did not have the resources readily at hand to take on that work within it current operations. I feel this was a logical move since Ironton in Bloom has a demonstrated successful program in place. The public may not realize, but the Ironton in Bloom program has taken on the task city wide for what you now see in streetscapes. This is accomplished through an Ironton in Bloom program that now requires an annual budget in excess of $40,000. This program is currently paid for primarily by forward thinking sponsor organizations, businesses, and individual donors of time and money that see the value of this investment in reclaiming our city’s future.

Although this civic group agreed to take on this Etna Park task, it did ask the city administration to hopefully increase its contribution to assist with the additional cost the organization will incur for this task. During that discussion, it was also recommended by Ironton in Bloom that the city considers developing a specific line item within its city Budget like most other progressive cities for “Streetscaping.” This was recommended by the organization considering the following;

1. The city is about to take on maintenance of additional projects like the new bridge landings, the Ironton Riverfront trails, the Ironton Marina, and the Gateway projects, all of which have streetscaping components critical to their success

2. A budget line item provides city administration a known budget which allows for better planning each year, and

3. Separate line items within the city budget allows for debate annually about critical operations of the city and how much our city leaders should invest in each of these areas operations.

From my many years of experience from working with the city, the county, and other communities throughout the State, I realize that Ironton has one huge asset that many other communities do not have. That asset is a group of people and businesses that have stepped up and individually invested their hard earned time and money to assure the city and County have a future for our next generations. They have stepped up to take on their respective roles knowing that, while most cities financially support these operations, our city has limited resources that oftentimes needs to be invested in other areas of city operations. I think few in the Community would disagree that because of these efforts the city is now realizing investment by new businesses, new jobs, new residences, increased property values, all of which of course increase revenues to the city which in turn are made available to the city for its investment decisions.

I applaud our city leaders who now are thinking long term future of the city when it comes to expenditures of those precious revenue sources. I believe that history has demonstrated that the alternative of no investment in these critical quality of life areas such as streetscaping is no longer an option in today’s city operations. Although the $3,000 recommended by council in the city streetscape budget line item is only $100 over last year’s investment with Ironton in Bloom, the significance lies with the fact that the city identified and designated by a line item a critical area of operations within the city budget that deserves continued debate annually as to the appropriate levels of investment. In the meantime, I am sure that groups like the Ironton in Bloom and its supporters will continue to contribute their time and resources because their goal is the future of the city. If additional businesses like the Tribune and individuals like the editorial writer step up and contribute their time and resources, then we can continue to assist the city and hopefully make it a little easier for our leaders to make the hard decisions of investing city funds.

I feel the key to any good journalism is to check their facts, and one of the best ways to really know what is going on, is to get involved and work alongside of these organizations as a volunteer. Although volunteers get paid nothing, the rewards of seeing your community progress make it all worthwhile. I would like to invite the writer and others to come and join the Ironton in Bloom and other civic groups to fully understand what is going on in the Community. Ironton in Bloom meetings are open to the public at 5 p.m. at the city Building on the second and fourth Tuesday, every month. Better yet, come and work as a volunteer at the many upcoming betterment and fundraising events like Arbor Day, County Cleanup Day, Mother’s Day Plant Sale, Gus Macker, and the Farmers Market events, all fundraisers to keep Pride in Ironton.

 

Ralph Kline

Asst. Exec Director

Development and Planning