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THURSDAY, NOVEMBER 17, 2005
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EDITORIAL

City needs to move on priority projects

It is obvious that City Hall has a major split over fiscal policy, which doesn't mean either side is wrong.

The city simply needs more money.

Thus, how to increase revenue must be at the heart of any decisions the city makes about spending.

A colorful old politician once said that a drunk can't drink himself sober any more than a government can spend its way out of debt.

That sounds good but debt for investment is not bad as long as it goes into sound projects.

Councilman Gary Hammon issued a thoughtful alternative to the proposed $12 million bond deal. The money would go to finish the Jack Allen Recreation Complex in Southwest Decatur, help renovate Colonial Mall, build tennis courts at Point Mallard, buy police cars and fire trucks and build fire stations.

Mr. Hammon doesn't wish to borrow the money but wants to do the projects piecemeal. Barring that, he wants a citywide referendum on borrowing to be on the ballot in June when an election is already set.

The city expects to bring in thousands of people for soccer tournaments next year at the new recreation complex, and hopes fans like it so well they will continue to come back. Finishing the site is an investment, not foolish spending.

In the meanwhile, Colonial Mall needs to begin modernizing to keep shoppers at home, where the city will get the tax revenue from their purchases. That's an investment.

Bringing tournaments to a first-class tennis complex is, too.

Police cars, fire trucks and stations are investments. Good service brings lower insurance rates and new residents.

Decatur's growth is going through a lull. The city needs investments that produce returns and stimulate growth.

These projects fall in that category and need to move forward. Putting the bond issue to a vote will only delay things.

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