Tighten the belt. We’ve all had to do it in recent years, so it is really no surprise that the city of Wilmore needs to do the same. It’s painful, but necessary.
Let’s face it–we are trapped by our own idealism. We want more revenue to fund programs, but we don’t want the things that come along with growth. We want new houses to be built, but we only want a certain kind of neighbors. We’d like more tax income, but not more traffic. We don’t want to lose the unique character of our small town, but we are constricted by the very nature of that smallness.
Growth is scary. It brings change, and sometimes that change is not comfortable. The dilemma facing the Wilmore City Council is how to help our community grow intelligently and with good planning, while at the same time riding out the stormy seas of current economic times.
I’ve heard moaning and groaning. Some residents lament the fact that we need to lock our homes and cars now to protect against thieves. Others are absolutely terrified of alcohol sales at the proposed golf club which does not even yet exist. They decry changes threatened by an influx of people not “like us.” I understand their feelings, but those emotions do not present a solution to our current financial woes.
Growth is the most painless way out. I’m completely unimpressed with the auditor’s suggestion that we “budget to overspend.” That’s a paradox if ever I’ve read one. I thought the purpose of a budget was to prevent overspending, but perhaps that’s an old-fashioned idea. Hopefully the council will resist the notion that spending more money than we think we will receive is sound financial planning.
Councilman Jeff James’ statement is true. “We need to be more frugal.” In fact the truth of that statement would be well applied from Wilmore to Frankfort to Washington. However, that’s easier said than done.
I don’t know much about the proposed budget, but I do know this: Switching insurance companies from Anthem to Humana won’t help one bit. Poison is poison–it doesn’t matter what flavor it is.
Health care costs will continue to skyrocket, no matter which company provides the insurance. I have experience chasing this wild goose. We’ll never catch it. Prices may initially be lower, but there will be no true, long-term savings.
I have reservations about a PILOT program (payments in lieu of taxes), depending on how it is structured. Many tax-exempt organizations have chosen to locate in Wilmore, many of them being non- profits. Most of them do not have budgets as big as Asbury University or Asbury Theological Seminary.
These entities have also suffered from the downturn in the economy because they depend on charitable donations. If they are negatively affected by needing to pony up PILOT money, some of them may be crippled so much they will close or move. In many cases, employees of these institutions are tax-paying residents; if the organization moves in order to avoid city PILOT payments, so will the residents.
I wish I had a magic wand that would bring an easy solution to this problem. Alas, I don’t. I don’t envy the council members, and I would not want to be responsible for belt-tightening decisions.
All I know is that as a resident of Wilmore, I need to be ready to accept some changes I don’t like in order for my community to have a stable financial future. Hopefully I can find a way to keep a positive attitude even though I feel the pinch.