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TUESDAY, JULY 26, 2005
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EDITORIAL

City spending showing signs of bearing fruit

Taxpayers take note:

Despite years of pointed criticism aimed at city leaders for what many saw as a decade-long spending spree, Decatur seed money is showing signs of fruit.

The announcement of a horseshoe tournament, to take place in Priceville but with many activities in Decatur, is by no means the most dramatic success. It is, however, yet one more sign that our city is transitioning itself from a smoggy industrial town to a riverside gem.

Officials expect at least 1,200 horseshoe pitchers to show up at the 2008 event. Many will have families. Many will stay in hotels; some may stay in the refurbished Point Mallard campground.

Plus there will be spectators, many of them Decatur residents who will enjoy an experience here they could not get elsewhere.

The point is not that city spending always generates tourist dollars. The mayor and City Council need to evaluate every dollar spent and, if that dollar is designed to produce tourist dollars, they need to see a direct link from dollars-out to dollars-in. They have adopted a skeptical budget-making process and they are to be commended for doing so.

What horseshoe, baseball, golf tournaments and fishing tournaments do tell us, however, is that tourist dollars are not a distant grail. Some of the same things that we love about our city are also appealing to others.

We need to watch our city's wallet, but we also need to take care not to disrupt our accelerating progress toward an economy that thrives not just on industry, but on tourism.

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