Sikeston is a great place to live and raise our families. The City Council is working hard to give us the things we need, without raising taxes. We demand good roads, police and fire protection, places to rec-create and much, much more. Council has balanced the budget, but more money is needed to do the things we demand. What are our alternatives? We have three basic choices: Reduce the level of services, increase taxes or find another source of income. I, and probably you, do not want my taxes increased and I do not want to lose any of the services I am accustomed to.
A legitimate source of money is a PILOT (payment in lieu of taxes) from BMU. This source has been available since the bond issue was approved by the Council, for whatever reasons, never tapped this legal source of income. After three years of research, including an outside source reviewing all the documentation and lawsuits relative to the PILOT, Council concluded the PILOT will help the city do what we require. I have read this two-inch-thick document; you can too. It's available at City Hall. We can, as other cities do, legally use this PILOT. The City Council could have simply mandated it, but voted to allow you and me to make this decision.
The BMU has had a free hand with the use of that money over the years and, to their credit, they have done some great things for the citizens and the City of Sikeston. The bottom line is, BMU does not want to allow the City Council to exercise their legal right to get up to a 10 percent PILOT. Innuendos and half-truths are flying. For example, people are being told they are going to lose their jobs and electrical rates are going to increase are the two big ones. Fact: BMU cannot raise rates without the approval of the City Council (the people you elect). Fact: People are not going to lose their jobs.
We have the best-trained police and fire department people of any small community in Missouri. Guess what? Other departments are courting our highly trained personnel with promises of higher pay. They can pay more because we are paying the training costs. They're not! Did you know it takes three years to train a fully-qualified officer? We need the 3 percent PILOT to ensure we retain these highly trained individuals and provide even more training. Why? They protect us and our lifestyle. We also need this PILOT to take care of other city needs now and in the future.
As citizens we need, no, must, support our City Council just like we supporter the charter form of government. We must not be intimidated by the articles in the paper! Sure, there will be problems implementing these changes. that's life. No changes, even the adoption of the charter form of government, occur without overcoming problems.
My take on this situation is: BMU has had its way with little oversight by the City Council. Stated simply, BMU does not want to give up part of the power it has enjoyed all these years. Remember, the City Council has a morel, legal and fiscal responsibility to manage the City of Sikeston and do what's right for the city. They have my support.
SikestonDrunk driving is the most frequently committed crime in the United States. It is also the most easily prevented crime.
Prevention starts with attitude. Society no longer tolerates drunk driving as permissible, a rite of passage, a constitutional right, or the smart thing to do.
When MADD was founded in 1980, more than 28,000 people were being killed by drunk drivers across the United States each year. That number has decreased to more than 17,000 for 2001 with more than 500,000 individuals injured by drunk drivers. Many people have now taken a stand against drunk driving (unfortunately, drunk driving fatalities are again increasing annually). Many factors have helped decrease fatalities, including increased safety belt usage, a collaborative effort of DWI enforcement by many police and sheriff departments, the highway patrol, better safety education, more awareness and prevention programs and sometimes increased prosecution and sentencing, to only name a few.
Scott County is like many communities across the state of Missouri. Many hard working folks live in Scott County with a deep faith-based religion that helps sustain their lives and families. But tragedies also strike small communities as well as our major metropolitan cities.
MADD has always supported the families as they travel through this grief journey, but MADD also empowers citizens to become involved in holding our officials accountable. Ask questions of your state senator and state representatives, watch and monitor court whether municipal, associate circuit or circuit. Applaud your local law enforcement for clear, concise and timely investigations, their dedication to DWI enforcement and the impact they have on your community.
Become directly involved in your community as a volunteer of hospice, the Heart Association, American Red Cross or the multitude of victim service agencies that need your time and commitment. Make a difference in your own community.
Bud Balke, Missouri state victim services coordinator Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD)
I am very proud to know we have a true journalist in our city among the left-wing liberal news media nationwide. You paint both sides of the street which is, in my opinion, the way journalists should print and portray facts.
I especially appreciate your portrayal of the flag controversy in the Standard Democrat Jan. 19 edition.
Our American heritage is to be recognized, not swept under the rug. Thank you.
William L. Whitlock