Letter to the Editor 1-18-19
Happy New Year Concordia. It is hard to believe that a year has passed by already. Thanks for putting up with me as your Mayor. I hope that I didn't disappoint you. I know that being Mayor has taught me a lot more about your concerns as well as the needs of the city this past year. Information that will aid me in doing even a better job as your City Commissioner in 2019.
If you recall, two items that I strongly focused on when I ran two years ago were transparency and priorities. Two items that I felt the city was lacking when it came to spending your tax dollar. They are also two items that I feel the city has slowly come around to changing. Although we are still not perfect, especially when it comes to priorities, at least in my mind, we are getting there. The importance of these two items are becoming even more critical as we enter 2019. We have yet to obtain any industry type business that would attract new tax payers to our community, our current taxes are among the highest in the state, coupled with an average median income that ranks among the lowest in the state.
To add to this dilemma are two components that help entice future businesses that are in need of upgrades. Those are the hospital and the schools. As I told Senator Moran during his last visit to Concordia, we are in the chicken and the egg syndrome. We need repairs to our hospital and schools to help attract business, but don't have the tax base to pay for them.
But as a wise old man once told me, the impossible just takes a few minutes longer. What he failed to tell me was that to accomplish that it takes people having trust and faith in you as well as a plan that fits the make up of what you were trying to achieve.
The school issue is a very good example. There is no doubt that just as the infrastructure of the city is old and in need of repair, so are some of our classrooms. Yet despite that need, there seems little if any interest from the taxpayers to resolve that issue as it is being presented to them today, or better said not being presented to them. Fact is, there are many who feel that we really don't have a big issue. I mean why would the school board approve a $1.3 million football/track project instead of just making repairs to the track and funnel the rest of the capital improvement money back into upgrading the classrooms, if we really had a serious problem with the infrastructure of the school. After all, the priorities of the school board have always been what is best for the kids. To add to that, I have people telling me that when you include the add ons to the project the total figure may come close to $1.5 – $1.7 million. A rumor that I hope for transparency sake is not true.
So how do you accomplish the impossible here? Hopefully the powers to be, come up with a realistic plan that prioritizes the items that need to be accomplished over a period of time that will fit the tax base of our community instead of trying to get our community to accept a $30 million bill all at once. Once accomplished, they then need to reach out to the public and hold meetings on their turf instead of expecting the taxpayers to come to them for this information.
Likewise, when it comes time for a vote, it must not be done by mail but only at the voter box. I have first hand experience what happens when you vote by mail. Most people don't take it seriously and the only votes that you get are the ones from people who want it. Any vote worth having is worth doing it right and that is at the voter box and not through the US Mail. The school board has to realize that they are not the only game in town and that we also have a hospital in need of major repairs. Again, no one feels that the school is not in need of some sort of repairs, however, how much the community can afford at one time is the question.
Then we have the hospital needs. Many feel, as well as I, that this is the most important issue that the city faces today. Especially when it comes to attracting businesses to our city. This will also be the most difficult task to resolve. Again, the city cannot afford a large tax number to fund this, no matter how important it is to the future of the city. We just don't have the tax base. However, this is another case where priorities should be established that fit the pocket book of our tax base. This together with monies that can be obtained by outside resources may help us reach our goal.
This brings us to the needs of the city in 2019. The city must continue what it started in 2018, we cannot allow any new outside projects that will create any delays to repairs to our infrastructure. We have done too much of that in the past and this city is too old and can't afford anymore delays. Especially, given our current tax base. There is no doubt that the city has needs. Repairs that will need your support to accomplish. Needs that will have to be resolve if we want to see growth in our city. Needs that will require your elected officials, be it school, hospital, or city, to take a step back, and establish priorities that fit the tax base of the community. Elected officials who will be not only be transparent with you but will seek out your thoughts and ideas. Together, we can overcome the tasks that lie ahead and continue to bring growth and prosperity not only back to the city but to the county as a whole.
I leave you as a Mayor but not as a City Commissioner. My family and I have lived in a lot of different cities but have never felt like we were ever a real part of one. Thanks to you, that feeling is gone.
Serving you, is my way of thanking you for welcoming my family into your city.