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We need to work together for our community

By Staff | Mar 12, 2009

I agree with the council in that some of the streets need to be fixed and all brought up to the same condition, and that this project should go forward. What I don’t agree with is the timing and the scope of the project.

Now is not the time, and it seems to me that before proceeding with a project of this size, a considerable amount of the funding should be in place. I favor using infrastructure funds, reallocating a portion of the existing sales tax from the JDA and putting another 1 percent sales tax in place to help raise some of the funds. It is not right for only the property owners to shoulder such a heavy financial burden.

Whether or not there are going to be enough written protests to stop this project at this point is immaterial. The point is that we all live and work here. We all share the burden and the responsibility of making this a town we can all be proud to live in. That means, in large part, communication. People talking and listening to the council and the council talking and listening to the people. One thing that has not been communicated well at all is the actual low bid. It came in at $3,997,574, but there is $1,408,599.82 in contingencies, warranty, legal, insurance and interest fees added to it. So the actual cost of the project will be $5,408,174.47. Even with $500,000 of city funds paid up front, that will still leave almost $5,000,000 to be spread among the property owners.

If I were to say something to the council, it would be: Before you make a decision about proceeding with this project, take a good look at all of the people you see every day, the ones that come into your places of business every day, the ones who provide the services that we all take for granted, the ones who work hard to pay for the support of this town. Ask yourselves, is it fair, is it right for you to expect us to put all of our property up as collateral for a $5.4 million project? One about which you, yourselves have said you are disappointed in the numbers and that we did not get any kind of a deal. With such disappointing numbers, what would be the harm in holding off at least one more year?

There are a lot of people in town who would like to have their street fixed because of the condition it is in. The question that they ask is, “How much is it going to cost ME?” By holding off at least a year, it would allow the special assessment committee to do their job and let everyone know what it will cost for each assessed property. Then we property owners can make an informed decision as to whether or not we can afford this project based on our own financial position.

By waiting a year, the costs of the project might be higher, but they could also be a lot lower. Also, with a depression looming on the horizon, I think it might be wise to hang on to the almost $6,000,000 in the bank and see what this economy does and not spend it, plus go into debt an additional $5 million.

What happens if (God forbid) a business like Rugby Manufacturing, which has already laid off several people, is forced to close its doors? What happens to those people, who would then be unemployed? Our hospital is the largest employer in Rugby. Women in this town already have to go elsewhere to get medical attention just to have a baby. We will soon be losing three more doctors. What happens when the hospital has to start laying off staff because the needed services are no longer available here? When these people are unemployed and wondering how they are going to make ends meet, the last thing they need to worry about is how they are going to make the payment on the special assessments for the new streets that do nothing for them.

I think that as a city council it is your obligation to consider those needs and concerns first. Listen to what the majority of the people in town are trying to say. We all need to work together to decide what is best for everyone. When making these kinds of decisions that

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