August 9, 2014 10:11:38 PM
A thorn to the Columbus mayor and city council for their refusal to consider the possibility of privatizing the city's public works department as means to address a serious budget deficit that could ultimately result in either a tax hike or a cut in city services or personnel.
During the council's special meeting to discuss the city budget, it became evident that the city will have to dip into its reserves to find a budget that currently features a shortfall of about $500,000. With property values declining in the city and ad valorem revenue taking a hit with the closing of a couple of major employers, the long-term prospects suggest the city will have to make some tough decisions.
So when the idea of looking into the merits of privatizing the public works department was proposed -- something the city considered eight years ago -- it seemed a reasonable suggestion. But the council deadlocked on that proposal (Gene Taylor, Kabir Karriem and Marty Turner were the "no" votes) and Mayor Robert Smith broke the tie and voted against it.
We cannot say whether the idea of privatizing public works is a good idea or not. We don't have enough information. And that's precisely the point. Weighing the pros and cons seems reasonable and does not commit the council to anything. What it does say, though, is that the council is not willing to consider every option. And that is a problem.
A rose to Cathy and Billy Coleman, who have offered Ann Davis free office space in the building they own on the corner of Fifth and Main after the back wall at Davis' real estate office on Main Street collapsed on Aug. 4. While there is some remaining question over who is responsible for the collapse of the building -- namely whether or not Davis had the proper permits for the construction project that is believed to be responsible for the accident -- it is always nice to see neighbors helping neighbors in our business community.
A rose to the Starkville Board of Aldermen and the Oktibbeha County Board of Supervisors for their decisions to provide $5 million each in funding that will enable the Golden Triangle Development Link to build a new industrial park that could add more than 1,000 jobs. The decision will mean a tax increase, something that must have been particularly difficult for the aldermen, who have prided themselves in being fiscally conservative. But if the county and city are to build a robust, diverse economy, the tax increase can be justified on the grounds this represents an investment that will ultimately benefit all citizens. If every rose has its thorn, the latter belong to Supervisor John Montgomery and Alderman Roy A. Perkins, who were the lone nay sayers for each of their respective boards. Thankfully, their vision of a status-quo Starkville is not universally shared by the rest the city's elected officials.
A rose to executive director Mike Hainsey and the Golden Triangle Regional Airport. Long a fixture in our community, it is sometime easy to overlook the value of having such a facility in the area. While regional airports in other parts of the state have struggled to maintain carriers and customers alike, the GTRA has steadily grown -- it is now the third largest regional carrier in the state, trailing only Jackson and Gulfport/Biloxi, who have far larger population bases.
It should be remembered that the airport has played and continues to play a critical role in the area's booming industrial growth. There is a symbiotic relationship between the area's industry and GTRA. Industries need the access to convenient air travel GTRA provides -- in fact, air service was something Yokohama demanded as it considered options for its new tire production facility that ultimately landed in West Point -- while GTRA relies on those industries for customers. For the rest of us, it's wonderful to have a great option for air travel in our own backyard.