Visit most social media sites that deal with Decatur and you will find that there’s plenty of varying opinions about the issues that the City is dealing with.
For example, the uncut weeds and grass on City owned properties, rights of way and in the alley’s. It’s a hot topic that many people feel needs to be addressed… and soon.
For three members of the City Council, it’s an issue that gets brought up almost daily.
“Folks are upset about it”, said District 2 Councilwoman Kristi Hill, “and I am too.”
If you listen to or read the comments made on the Internet about the topic, many are quick to say that something needs to be done as soon as possible.
Hill and fellow Council members Paige Bibbee and Charles Kirby are in agreement.
The question arises then, how will the City pay for the extra work? Especially when; for the most part, the City has cut the funding for the Department (Parks and Recreation) that handles most of the mowing; either on its own or through contractors. Hill and Bibbee will point out that cuts made by previous City Councils were made before their time. Kirby; while being a part of one of those previous Councils, has voted in the past to increase funding for Parks and Recreation. He is also quick to point out, that with revenues on the decrease, the question arises where do you get the money?
Kirby said that he asks a simple thing to all who those who say something about why doesn’t the City just put more money into it. “I ask them how many other City employees do you want laid off?” “You can have the desire to do a lot of things, but when you don’t have the revenue, your choices are limited”, he said.
All three agreed that Parks and Recreation needs more funding, but that to do so something else will have to be trimmed. “Difficult decisions will need to be made due to the public’s desire for more money in maintenance areas like grass cutting”, said Kirby.
“It’s all about prioritizing things”, said Hill. Bibbee agreed and added that with the majority of the citizens wanting this issue taken care of, the Council will have to look what things are important and what isn’t. “We just can’t keep dipping into the City’s excess reserves to take care of this”, she said.
“It’s on us to take care of our City”, said Hill. “We want our residents to take care of their property, to take pride in the way it looks. We can’t ask them to do what we won’t.”
All three mentioned that right now, the City is in mid-year review, which helps determine how the City will budget for things next fiscal year. The plan is to push for more money to help eliminate some of the issues this Council has faced so far. The Mayor has until September 30th to present the Council with that budget.
When asked how they would like to respond to those constituents who are complaining about the grass or other issues, Hill and Bibbee replied that instead of people fussing about it on social media, come talk to your Council members. “Start attending Council work sessions and Council meetings”, said Hill. “That way you can see for yourself what really went on or was said.”
The next Council work session will be July 31st at 5:00pm on the 7th floor of City Hall.