If you accept the much-debated idea that Sikeston has in recent years become a city in crisis, then surely Tuesday's sales tax approval here will be the turning point in the ongoing battle to improve the community. Sikeston voters gave strong approval - though short of overwhelming - to imposing a net half-cent city sales tax to address some long overdue issues.
In my opinion, a number of reasons can be cited for the sales tax approval Tuesday. First, most city residents recognize that there are some real improvements needed in Public Safety funding, in the need to remove some problem properties and the expansion of the higher education center here. But much of the credit also goes to those who promoted the sales tax because they identified their supporters and then made every effort to get those votes to the polls. The results speak for themselves.
Topping my agenda is the immediate action by the Land Clearance for Redevelopment Authority to begin removing those properties that have created much of the "crisis" that has pointed our community in the wrong direction. But the LCRA alone can do only so much. It will take some strong resolve and enforcement of the city's rental ordinance and added support for the code enforcement division of the city. These elements can combine to return our community to the source of pride on which our history is based.
Let this vote be a clear message for the slumlords who virtually abandon their properties and allow an unwanted element to base their activities in our community. Let this vote also be a clear message to the legal system within our community that the public is demanding action. And that action need not wait on some distant date. It must occur here and it much occur now.
Let Tuesday's vote also send a clear signal to those who "stay" in our community, who sell drugs, who create violence, who are jobless by their own choice and who believe that actions are not imminent. These people are wrong and we, as a community, are about to provide that lesson.
Tuesday's vote provides the city with ample resources to change the direction of our community. We can no longer delay actions because of financial concerns. That is by no means a blank check for the city. But it does mean the public has expressed faith in the planned direction and expects that plan to be followed.
Public Safety will now have ample tools, personnel and funding to address all of those areas of concern that have been voiced in recent years. They are most certainly up to the task. And quite obviously they have the support of the community.
I have expressed concerns over the "impact projects" that will result from Tuesday's vote. I urge the council - and I know they will - to keep open lines of communication with the residents before spending decisions are made. This 10-year sales tax increase should set the tone for our future generation. And that tone sounds much more pleasing today than in recent memory.