Here's your chance to tell city officials where your tax dollars should be spent. Included in today's edition of the Standard Democrat is a citizen's priority survey which asks a series of questions on how you would rank a long list of city needs. Citizens attending a series of town hall meetings recently completed the forms but the city would like to provide as many opportunities as possible for citizen input. So here's your chance.
I personally doubt that many will take the opportunity to complete this form and forward it to the city. Most of the population believe their input will make little difference and thus the apathy. That is most certainly not limited to our community nor to just local government. In general, people simply believe they have a limited voice in how government runs. But that attitude is patently wrong.
We applaud the city on their efforts to receive suggestions from the public. Our city officials are receptive to ideas that will help to improve our community and to help it grow. Unfortunately, these are difficult times and suggestions alone are not enough. At the end of the day, most of our problems will take money to solve. And that, to me, is the slight flaw in the city's survey questions.
I've completed a survey and have examined closely the questions asked. I find great support for virtually every question posed on the survey. But the flaw comes in the funding. Without a doubt, the city cannot and will not accomplish each and every goal on this survey. Put simply, it's impossible. So it's important that we rank those improvements in the order of their priority. But what we don't know is just how much money will be required to achieve any or all of these goals.
The survey asks questions about housing, transportation, police and fire services, parks and recreation and general community services. It's real simple - in my opinion - to rank virtually all of these areas as "very important". But that still leaves the question of funding. And there's less that a consensus on that issue.
If you've read any of these columns through the years you know that I place a high priority on housing issues in our community. I believe all of our problems and solutions begin and end with housing. Until we make it less attractive for some residents to relocate here, we'll continue to decline. And until we provide an expanded job base, we'll never attract the population that makes a community grow and prosper.
A jobless, dependent population that constantly looks for government to provide their every need will not make a community grow. A lawless population that preys on their neighbor and brings about a massive decline in a neighborhood will not make a community grow. The list goes on and on.
But let me make this crystal clear. If the citizens of a community who have the power and ability and determination to change the face of the population stand by silently and do not act, then there is no one to blame but ourselves.
Surveys are important tools to gauge public priorities. But actions speak so much louder. And yes, it's past time for those actions. You know it and I know it.