I guess it’s true that people prefer problems that are familiar to solutions that are not. I first wrote what you’re about to read six years and two weeks ago. To put it another way, Earth has traveled 3,517,000,000 miles around the sun (allowing for two Leap Years) and while I’d like to think the world has changed (your mileage may vary) here we are, stuck in the middle with ourselves.
As a casual reading of our newspaper reveals, we are waist-deep in budget formulations and discussions (order is deliberate though the reverse might be the preferred path). We in Norwich, CT, wrestle with a city budget many dread (before it’s even presented) that’s in many ways a variation on one simple, but terribly complicated, question: can we afford to spend the money required to operate our city?
How about this, instead: Can we afford not to? I think that question should be asked whether we are looking at education, public safety, public works; at every aspect, person and program in Norwich.
We all agree we want to enhance and enlarge the municipal revenue stream by expanding private sector investment in Norwich but if we don't recapitalize our infrastructure, reinvest in our public safety and readdress decades of make-do funding for our public schools, whom do we hope to attract to Norwich and what will we have left of Norwich for ourselves?
No one wants to pay more taxes, none of us like what we're paying now. But all of us want the services we currently have to remain exactly as they are, and maybe even get a little more. And each of us has an opinion on where (else) in the budget savings can be realized.
The only people who can get us out of this mess are already here. We are all we can count on and that's perfect because we are all we need, but we have to be willing to take risks to achieve rewards. And we need to remember there are NO silver bullets. Rome wasn't built in a day and I’ve been told even Marcus Aurelius found the real estate market soft when trying to lease the upper floors of the Coliseum.
There are as many reasons to NOT invest in ourselves as there are residents, but there's also over 40,000 reasons why we must spend our own money on our own city. Each of us is worth every penny of the current city budget as well as the one being developed by the City Manager and the various department directors.
Soon enough the men and women of the City Council, the neighbors we elected last fall to make tough decisions like budget expenditures, will take out their stubby pencils and will need every informed idea and constructive suggestion we can offer.
Once we've decided we are worth saving, we'll have to reinvent every aspect of how we do business with and for ourselves. We’ve traveled far too far to still be standing here.