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Editorial for January 15

By Staff | Jan 14, 2020

All to often people are elected or put into office on the false hope that they will do the will of the people. When in reality their only agenda is to satisfy their own egos.

This seems to be the case in Paden City as the community has seen a huge spike in their city utility bills over the past two years. At one point it was published by city officials that a hike in the water bills had not occurred since 2007, later it was proven otherwise.

Most recently at the monthly city council meeting, council members voted 3-1 in favor of moving forward on implementing a one percent sales tax in the city.

This was approved despite the unfavorable voice of those in attendance. Councilman J.P. Springer voiced his oppostion to the proposal stating he was not infavor of raising taxes and he cast the lone dissenting vote.

It would be good to remind those holding positions in the city that they are there to represent the interest of the residents. Certainly they should take into consideration the burden this would place on citizens as they strive to support local business.

They made that clear when a councilman in support of the proposal stated it would “spread the burden around a little.” Which means they recognize it to be a burden.The question that should be asked is why do they need to burden the people at all?

The Mayor advised it would only generate approximately $50-75 thousand dollars a year, and that “all” the surrounding towns and cities have moved forward on this.

Upon checking it has been discovered once again that the truth has not been told. Only New Martinsville has taken the proper steps to implementing the increase. However others may be checking into it.

But, the question remains why burden the tax payers when there is so little to gain and so much to lose. How can you justify raising taxes that would only generate maybe $50 thousand dollars per year, while recklessly spending more and more and never completely finishing projects that get started.

The streets in the community are in disarray and the water is unsafe to drink and the police department is once again calling for new vehicles and the cycle continues. A new tax on sales in the city would do little to relieve their finacial woes.

It is time to take the bull by the horn and start looking at ways to conserve instead of spending your way farther into dept on the backs of the ever dwindling population.

Another suggestion would be for council to explain the “many benefits” it would have for the people. At a meeting in June of 2019 the Mayor said “this is not a city tax” and he urged the residents not to get riled up. Now months later it is again being referred to as a tax.

Another councilman stated it would help the residents keep their quality of life and receive some benefits. The quality of life for many residents of Paden City has become living from paycheck to paycheck, while many struggle to even do that.

It seems the leaders at city hall need to take a look around, put some interest back into the streets, clean up the town, and drop the burden off the people.

The City is now about to start the new water project which will increase the residents city bill by an additional $6 per month in 2020 and 2021. This will bring the residental city bill to somewhere around $150 per month, that is,’ providing newer rate increases are not needed for other departments. They don’t ned or want additional increases

With the decline in residents and the large amount of delinquent customers each month, it would seem wise to look at ways to cut costs instead of constantly increasing spending and going into debt for projects that will not have a lasting effect on the future of the community and be a deterrent for new development

Before even considering raising rates on residents or implementing sales taxes the administration should consider all options available and listen carefully to the concerns of residents and business owners. Finding ways to lure more business and professionals into the community should be the top priority, but it seems the oposite is true as three businesses have recently left and this new proposal could be the deciding factor for the remaining few that still exist.

Moving forward with this motion should never be considered without first having a series of public meetings giving the residents and business owners opportunities to express their concerns.

We have all heard the expression, “You can’t fight city hall.” At its heart, it expresses a deeply cynical view about the ability of average citizens to have a say and an impact on the policy decisions made by their local governments. Indeed, it’s part of a more widely held view that government institutions, at all levels, are somehow not on the side of their citizens, have their own agendas, or are otherwise indifferent and, therefore, cannot be trusted.

The simple fact is some citizens can and regularly do avail themselves of the opportunities to participate in their local government and, more importantly, are able, through their actions, to have real impacts on the outcomes of the policy debates that go on all the time in city halls and county courthouses.

It’s no secret that most of the regular meetings held by city and county governing bodies and their appointed boards and commissions are usually sparsely attended. What this means for those few motivated citizens who do attend, is that they are often the only ones whose voices are heard during the public comment periods of their local governing body’s regular meetings

Even attendance at public hearings where community input is actively sought, it’s usually not much greater than the attendance at regular meetings, so the same dynamic often plays out-the motivated few who show up become the voice of the public. Far from being unable to “fight” city hall, these few citizens end up being the eyes and ears and often the voice, the elected officials were supposed to be.

So, at least in my experience, you really can “fight” city hall, mostly by joining them to express your views, and discuss and debate the issues. What we need are more people who are willing to do just that. The tougher “fights” are the ones we need to wage against those who rapidly pass motions and proposals with little concern, and for that matter limited knowledge of the outcome.