Letter to the Editor

Keep moving forward

Friday, April 24, 2015

Dear Editor,

If there was one big question that everyone had to think about in order to make a decision on the upcoming Sales Tax renewal, the question that I would put forward is "Are we better off now as a community, than we were before the Tax?"

Having lived here for the last 35 years and seen us deal with some pretty extreme changes that we had no choice in, such as the water treatment system and the closing of our city trash dump and major improvements to the sewer system, we were forced by the regulating powers that be to spend millions of bucks just to be able to have basic service.

Of course it then falls back on all of us to foot the bill. So, with all of those things on the plate, it brings into question how do we pay for the other basic services that we all enjoy and expect. Well, I guess, with property taxes.

So what do we do, then, when someone wants something new?

Something like a new area to build a house. Or a place for their kids to play or swim or skate.

Or someone thinks it's a great idea to put in more ball fields to accommodate the 300+ baseball and softball players for games and tournaments that bring hundreds of families to town?

All great things for our city and businesses, but all of which require funding to make them happen. These few things that I mentioned are things that are still being discussed as projects for the future by many people within the community.

I do know that in the past few years there were great ideas that included increased services to our senior citizens and securing the existence of the National Guard in McCook and fixing some long-overdue issues in the most amazing parks in Nebraska.

I know that it was also possible to accelerate the schedule for the really overdue repair and replacement of some horrible streets and drainage. One of the biggest good ideas was to try to pay off some of the huge water and sewer debt so we could afford a decent shower.

How about replacing some property tax request with a few proceeds from sales? And this is just a small example of the things that have been done.

So we return to the original question. "Are we better off now than we were before"? I guess if you lump all of the projects together and show them to someone who is 65 and up, they may not approve of 30 percent of what's been done.

And I can understand which of those projects didn't really improve their life. The same way the 25- to 50-year olds aren't yet seeing the need for a senior center and handy bus.

But it's all a matter of community. My feeling is this. Not only are we in better shape now, but I really think that much much more can be done in the future.

Everyone knows that we still are a town with some problems.

But our problems don't normally include gang-related violence, or kidnapping or murder. We can see kids riding bikes without supervision and walking with their friends around town without fear of them disappearing.

It's a good town. With good people and good values. And believe it or not, good leadership.

So you might not agree with every single thing that your sales tax money has been used for.

I get that. But we have moved to a place that at least we are beside the 8-ball instead of behind it. And, if given the chance to continue doing the things that WE bring forward, along with making forward-thinking decisions.

The City Council and staff will follow the language of the ballot. It's illegal not to! They are just ordinary people like you and me. I say VOTE YES!

If I disagree with a project in the future, I can go to the meetings and tell them why.

So can everyone else. Let's keep growing.

Jerry Reitz,

McCook, Nebraska

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  • It's much better to work on downsizing government. Better to phase out as many government employees as possible. Here's a site for people to look at. --- http://www.usdebtclock.org/ --- you can see what is happening. The large amount of present deficit. Also, the very large amount of unfunded obligations. The relatively small number of non government workers supporting not only a large number of government workers but also various categories of non workers. It's best to just wean people at all levels off the idea that government should be all things to all people.

    -- Posted by bob s on Fri, Apr 24, 2015, at 3:58 PM
  • Great points Jerry. Each project funded by the tax may not be what every taxpayer wanted but for the good of the group the tax has been very successful.

    -- Posted by dennis on Fri, Apr 24, 2015, at 11:04 PM
  • Where would MCCook be without the sales tax? No street improvements, no WEC, no Valmont, higher property tax,no Army reserve/National Guard , no senior center improvements., no park improvements., higher sewer , water and trash fees...

    -- Posted by dennis on Fri, Apr 24, 2015, at 11:13 PM
  • I think Jerry has some good points but I feel that the city of McCook's government spending is out of control and with this much in uncommitted funds they will not spend it wisely given the history. Even he will point to things privately that should not have been done with the sales tax. There is no plan to spend an extra $40 million, just hand it over and trust us isn't enough of a plan. I am saying that the city residents need to vote no on this and send them back to the drawing board to develop a more solid plan to spend the money wisely. Throwing mud on the wall and seeing what will stick isn't a vey good plan and that is what the city has received under the past leadership. Also it appears that when council members actually suggest lower the city property tax levy they disappear and are replaced by appointing a more pro government growth member that tows the line.

    I said it in another post and I will say it here under past leadership the city has adopted an entitlement mentality and I feel with the sales tax the city has overstepped their limits and abused the privilege to be a central trade area. The city under past leadership has turned to other funding in the form of sales taxes and grants that it has grown into an entity that is addicted to it and might not even be able to function properly without that extra money. Isn't that a bad predicament to be in?

    Who is subsidizing those property owners outside the city of McCook? Nobody helps me pay my property taxes and then when I come to the city of McCook to spend my money I am treated by the local government as an unwelcomed visitor that must pay more for the privilege to come to town.

    -- Posted by Todd Cappel on Sat, Apr 25, 2015, at 8:03 AM
  • Jerry-good email and nice to see one that is not negative about the city.

    -- Posted by etownsley on Sat, Apr 25, 2015, at 8:52 AM
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