A popular theme in recent times is: It takes a tribe to raise a child. This can also be applied to our community. It would seem that most in our community expect our local government, the parents, to be solely responsible for conditions and the growth of our community.
I came to this conclusion as I have attempted to engage people to obtain suggestions for the use of Hospitality Tax funds. Although many have great suggestions, frequently the responses involved actions involving private property for which the funds cannot be legally used.
These would be followed by a long list of “what’s wrong with our community” comments. The list included drainage problems, empty commercial buildings in disrepair, trash piled on the side of roads, and residential properties overgrown with weeds and covered with debris.
When asked for solutions the individuals all indicated that the Town should do something. In each case, the Town referenced was our Town government (Council and the administration). I agree that that is a reasonable expectation in a few of the cases. However, in the majority of the cases, the Town does not have the legal authority in some cases. In other, funds are not available, and in many it is not their responsibility.
The issue of legal authority is too complex to address in this short space. However, the issue of funding and responsibility is much simpler.
Although most people think that the current $4 million-plus budget means that lots of money is available of these issues, a closer look indicates that the budget allows for maintaining the status quo with few funds for capital or new programs. In fact, a line item in the revenue section indicates that money accumulated in previous years is being used to balance the budget.
As for responsibility, 95 percent-plus of the buildings and property in question is either owned by individuals or businesses. These are the parties responsible for the maintenance of those properties. The Town is not responsible for the repair of sagging awnings, painting of buildings, nor the removal of trash and debris from yards and vacant lots.
Granted, we have some rays of sunshine. An example is the efforts by the Rotary Club to improve and maintain the property at the intersection of Russell and Columbia Avenue. I am sure that other organizations and individuals are making efforts to improve our community. However, it will take an organized effort by not only the business and civic groups but individual citizens in cooperation with the Town to improve and have focused growth of our community.
A single honey bee cannot make honey by herself, but look at what a hive can do.
Posted August 15, 2019