There is some discussion as to whether or not Sikeston needs the new taxes that are to be voted on in February. I hate taxes as much as anyone, but we have to look at the future growth of our community.
I have been involved in Sikeston's building industry for the last 32 years and we are in the largest building and business expansion we have had during that period of time. Being built are upscale homes and upper-end duplexes and condominiums. We also have developers ready to fill the need for affordable entry level housing. This has occurred because there are a lot more good paying jobs coming into our area. We have the corrections facility in Mississippi County, along with plant expansions at several of our local industries that continue to bring good paying jobs to our area.
Sikeston is receiving the lion's share of the benefits from this expansion because, in spite of our problems, this is still the best place to live in this area. I hear the complaint that all we get are fast-food places. This is not true. These businesses only come to areas that will support them. Any business that brings jobs and dollars here must be considered an asset. The fast food and other service industries would not prosper if we did not have a sound base backing us up.
We also have serious problems we must address. We have made strides to clean up the parts of our city which have deteriorated and have worked on the drug and crime problems. We have derelict buildings which must be torn down. Certainly the property owners should be made to pay, but this is not always possible. The land recovery and redevelopment project is the only expedient way to resolve this issue. Does anyone know how much it will cost when completed? No, because needs will change as this project develops. More funds will be needed early in this project because we will want to see quick results in some of our more blighted areas.
The higher education part of this is vital to the citizens of Sikeston. Good jobs for our young people will require higher education and our industries demand advanced specialized training. With soaring costs, it is vital that our citizens can obtain these educational needs here in this community, at the greatly reduced cost this center provides. While the costs for the proposed new addition can be better estimated, they can still vary somewhat.
Public safety is our most important area of need. Our future depends on our streets and neighborhoods being safe. No one wants to live in an area where gunfire is a nightly occurrence. To try to patrol this city with as few as four officers borders on the ridiculous. This is another area where needs tend to be unpredictable. We must focus on manpower and results, rather than physical appearances.
In my opinion, the city officials and our elected members of the council all have the best interests of our city at heart. While they do not always agree with what I think or with each other, we do have good representation from all areas and views within our community. I would hate to restrict our ability to react to changing conditions by earmarking funds to be used for specific items, when we do not know what the needs will be in five to 10 years in the future.
What I do want our officials to do is to define all the objectives and then stay on a reasonable plan to accomplish them. They should keep in mind that my primary concern will not be a new DPS building or how many fancy vehicles we have. It will be are we making progress in the three areas of concern laid out by the public input they have received. It is my duty to remind them of their responsibility whenever I feel like this action is needed. I will attend council meetings when I have issues and will call my officials personally to express my views. These people represent us and unless we tell them what we think, the only opinion they can represent is their own.
I ask the citizens of Sikeston to pay close attention to the debate on this issue. You must decide for yourself what will be best for our city and then go express yourself by voting. Thank God for a country where everyone has a right to express their view and cast their vote. I am willing to pay my share of these taxes, but I will watch closely to see the funds are not wasted.