• 61°
Hartselle Enquirer

Hartselle must plan ahead

By Staff
Jack Greenhill, Guest columnist
I went to my first city council meeting in a while on Tuesday of last week and frankly I was disappointed. But I shouldn't have been. It was business as usual in Hartselle. The forces against change and progress were once again more vocal than the citizens who would like to see their city grow and improve.
When it was concluded, however, the council had passed a measure that gives me hope that our fair city will one day become a gem on the belt of I-65. The ability to offer real financial incentive to local and out-of-town investors may be the life-preserver that ultimately keeps Hartselle from being swallowed up by neighboring municipalities.
The room was packed with citizens up in arms about an issue that might directly affect them. Some were well informed, others displayed a woeful lack of understanding of the big issues facing the city or previous discussions and actions taken during the city's battle to find finances.
This meeting featured public hearings, speakers from the audience and a computer slide presentation on the future of the municipal airport. The airport wasn't the main issue that brought me and many others out. The airport issue was just an outgrowth of the larger problems facing our city. The possibility of a property tax increase referendum won the starring role.
However, the biggest problem Hartselle is facing is the attitude held by what I suspect is a sizable segment of the population. "If it's a tax, I don't want it." They're going to oppose any tax, no matter how much it is needed or how much good it could do.
They don't seem to realize or care that if we don't solve this downward financial spiral, a future council will not be able to state they are proud they have not had to cut back on city services or lay off any city employees as Mayor Knight said at the meeting.
Actually, to proclaim that you've maintained the status quo is not really much to crow about. That's about like saying, "I'm proud we were able to keep treading water and no one has drowned." It overlooks the fact that you're no closer to land either.
This council has looked all around for solutions to the city's problems, but has been frustrated at every turn by their own members, the voters, or perceived "political correctness."
One of the speakers in opposition suggested the city annex more land to attract business investment. He didn't seem to understand that if you annex it, you have a responsibility to provide that new area services – before new business may appear. However, the measure I wrote about earlier – the one the council did pass – would enable the city to offer enticements to investors that would make it to their advantage to be inside the city limits if the voters approve it.
I did agree with this speaker on one issue, however. The city must regain control of Hartselle Utilities. Under the current arrangement, the utility board is responsible to operate at least at break even. In order to maintain utility services to current city boundaries and install new facilities to unserviced residents, the department must make some profit. The current system was put in place to "de-politicize" the utility department. However, it also put the utility department in a position that in some situations is counter productive to the city welfare. Being able to direct the utility department to take advantage of opportunities will be crucial if Hartselle is going to be able to survive.
I'm a property owner in Hartselle. If property taxes go up, mine are going up, too. But I'm willing to pay if my taxes will help provide improved city services. I'm willing to pay if my taxes improve the education my children, and hopefully grandchildren, will be offered here. I'm willing to pay if my taxes preserve some of the valuable history that makes Hartselle so unique. And I'm willing to pay if my taxes provide greater opportunities for the American Dream for the other citizens of Hartselle. Under our current arrangement, none of these things are possible.
I'm a resident of Hartselle. If this problem isn't solved fairly soon, I will also be facing declining conditions along with the rest of the people who choose to live here.
I may one day be forced to vote on whether I want Hartselle to be a dependent suburb of a neighboring and more forward-looking municipality.
Jack Greenhill is the former managing editor of the Hartselle Enquirer.

FRONT PAGE FEATURED

Some concerned over new Hartselle superintendent hire  

At a Glance

Town of Falkville to hold Christmas in the Park Sunday

At a Glance

Hartselle Holiday Market returns Saturday

FRONT PAGE FEATURED

Old Hartselle post office to become event center, new home for chamber  

At a Glance

‘Have a Hart’ information session to be held Dec. 2

Morgan County

Future leader

News

Alabama DHR accepting applications for next round of child care bonuses 

FRONT PAGE FEATURED

Spirit of Thanksgiving: Volunteers deliver 266 food bags on holiday for Meals on Wheels  

At a Glance

Morgan County Sheriff’s Office to let citizens behind the scenes with academy  

FRONT PAGE FEATURED

Winter window wonderland  

At a Glance

Council to interview candidates for Parks and Rec director job  

Hartselle

Live nativity scene returns to First Christian Dec. 7-10

FRONT PAGE FEATURED

Local church prepares 400 Thanksgiving meals

News

HIS students help clean up effort at Mt. Tabor Cemetery 

News

Lovely landscape

News

Morgan buys SUVs to transport seniors, deliver meals

News

Morgan County Sheriff’s Office to let citizens behind the scenes with academy  

News

Morgan teen exhibits grand champion at Alabama National Fair

News

Murder-for-hire defendant seeks bond

MULTIMEDIA-FRONT PAGE

Stadthagen supports

News

SALUTE

FRONT PAGE FEATURED

Second grade students in Hartselle honor heroes

News

Alabama DHR accepting applications for next round of child care bonuses 

At a Glance

Vinemont man killed in single-vehicle crash

x