Most of us understand – know – that our dollars don’t buy much anymore, but we have a right to expect something we could see (population growth, job gains, a prettier town, something easily recognized and measurable as truly worthwhile), in exchange for our tax money that the city or the Paris Economic Development Corporation (PEDC) could point to and say, “We did that.”
But – factually – there isn’t much … from an estimated combined $26-million budget spent in each of the past four or five years.
The City of Paris is pretending the PEDC is responsible for all or most of the failure.
But how could that possibly be, because, since 1993, the City has appointed the PEDC board members.
So, how can a lack of progress be blamed on just the PEDC?
At least, two fairly-recent city-appointed PEDC Board members benefited from (PEDC’s recommended and city-approved) tax abatements and/or financing in the millions of dollars for companies in which they had a vested interest. Such may not be classified as a “conflict of interest”, but shouldn’t it certainly rise to a questionable ethics level? Even in Paris? Shouldn’t such city actions be, at least, open to questions? The good ol’ boy relationships have helped Paris get to where we are; and just the appearance of it causes anger among those paying the bills.
As the Paris Chamber has repeatedly said, community and economic development requires a coordinated, all-on-the-same-page, structured approach to be successful. But that’s not how Paris does it.
Paris acts like a first-time skater on ice; all over the place, not sure where they’ve going and a danger to others.
While the Paris Chamber doesn’t know, we really do believe the city, as well as the PEDC, sincerely try to do their best for the community. But much of the time, it seems they end up trying to do too many things which are not in their job descriptions.
The city and the PEDC should realize that the unhappiness they face is because – despite all the fishing tales they’ve told and are telling – they ain’t bringing home any fish.
The smell isn’t from fish.
But, in the experience of the Paris Chamber, it is very doubtful if you could explain anything to them with a baseball bat that they don’t want to understand.
Now, the city is wanting to get their hands on the PEDC’s budget. The City promises to spend about half of it on street repairs. But a promises by one council is easily broken by another, and there’s no accountability for doing it.
But economic development should never be the city’s business.
The job of city government is to provide the infrastructure and utilities for homes, businesses, and amenities (such as parks); provide police and fire protection; develop a budget to pay for personnel and things; and oversee a wise and timely management of the city’s responsibility.
But today, local city parks need improvements, water and sewer lines rebuilt, weeds, like litter and trash, abound, and by the city’s own admission, streets need repair. And “wise and timely management” is a debatable question. So, if the city can’t take care of what is the city’s business, how can the city take care of what isn’t the city’s business?
IF the city can do a better economic development job, why hasn’t it?
Voters should remember that even vote by council members was not unanimous.