As we prep for summer and start counting down the days until 'the kids' are done with school (full disclosure: our two finished up about a decade ago) it's tempting to allow plans for the 4th of July (already? yes, already) and the schedule for Rock the Docks and Rockin' the Greens (on Wednesdays and Fridays, respectively, starting in July) to dominate more of our thoughts than the budget deliberations all of us, but most especially the members of the City Council, have been through (with the end (for this year) nearly in sight and not helped by the machinations in Hartford).
Except like the seasons, all the concerns and complaints, issues and continuing absence of answers that consumed the last few months will return. Aside from elevating one another's blood pressure at public hearings, with letters to the editor and on-line comments, what have we succeeded in accomplishing in Norwich to grow our commercial property tax base and create relief for homeowners?
Some may think that's a Zen riddle, of sorts, because, as it is right now, it’s hard to tell what we're doing but we tell one another better days are ahead (and I want to believe that even if I have more blank calendar pages than patience).
We’ve been here before and that’s not a good thing. People prefer a problem that's familiar to a solution that is not. We are, and should be, concerned at what we pay in taxes for what we receive in services, but after we've said we're angry about one or the other (we rarely if ever complain about one and the other), we seem to resign ourselves to whatever is about to unfold and leave our protests at that, until the next year. We choose to forget to live as we do is a 365/24/7 job for all of us, not just some.
We changed our charter about a decade and a half ago attempting to make how we govern ourselves more transparent and to better define responsibilities and create accountability for increased economic development enhanced community quality of life.
I'm not sure how that has worked out, despite the efforts of the many talented people who volunteered to serve in elected positions like the City Council and Board of Education or on one of the nearly innumerable agencies, boards, commissions and committees we have in the city.
Perhaps just me but instead of a concerted effort to reassess the process of economic development we point fingers of blame at one another. The problem with finger-pointing is three fingers on the hand point back at ourselves. We seem to think if we wear mittens no one will notice.
Economic growth isn’t just about property values and taxes; it’s about enhanced opportunity and increasing our community’s quality of life for every resident. It's hard to imagine a greater 'good' for a government, at any level, a greater need for it and a more appropriate time to seriously work towards it than right now.