The results of a citywide survey are now in and, as expected, improved housing topped the list of categories judged important for our community. The outcome was highly predictable to me because of the wording of the survey and because of the attention given to housing conditions. I think this newspaper had a great deal of credit for bringing the housing issue to focus over a long period of time. But also, citizens began looking around their neighborhoods and began to understand that the future of our community lies at least partially in an improved housing climate.
Having said all of that, the issue still remains how to finance the work that is needed to transform Sikeston into what we all want. And the pricetag will not be small. It's time that we begin the discussion as a community on how to finance the changes that are essential for our growth. Without that discussion, the outcome is less than desirable.
Let me say one final point about the surveys. Very few citizens actually took the time to complete the surveys though ample opportunities were made available. Apathy is our greatest enemy and apathy never sleeps.
So are we willing to provide additional tax revenues to finance the changes that are so desperately needed? That question may well be put to voters in the near future. And if we're willing to devote tax dollars to property clean-up and removal, are we also willing to finance other important issues facing our community - improved salaries for city employees, a new Public Safety headquarters and jail, additional funding to help bring industry to Sikeston?
All that is certain is this - we cannot continue on the pace of progress with the financial resources currently available. Now you can argue that point and perhaps cut a bit of fat here and there. But by and large, our limited resources have been stretched to the breaking point and yet so many needs remain unmet.
Mark my word, the next year will be a pivotal year in our community. We've made some important changes in our form of government. But if anyone thought that change alone would alter the face of our community, you were sadly mistaken. What lies ahead is critical because it will take a resolve from the community to basically put our money where our mouths are. If we want change and if that change requires money, it has to come from somewhere. Without that infusion of revenue, change will most certainly occur. But it won't be the change that any of us want.
Sometimes, money is the least of the problem. Dedication and commitment - combined with resources - will force a turnaround here. The clock is ticking to decide just how much change we want, when we want it and how we're going to get there.