Letter to the Editor

Your view: Voice your opinion

Friday, April 13, 2007

Our city is at a crossroads, and we need our citizens to stand up and show us the direction to go.

There have been many changes in our city recently, and up to this point they have been paid for with existing revenues. City employees have made valuable suggestions that have saved thousands of dollars, allowing us to make many additional improvements around town, but there is still much to do.

New Madrid is a town with an aging infrastructure and it needs to be upgraded. Everyone remembers Christmas Eve 2004 - "The night the lights went out in New Madrid." This was the first sign of major problems with our electrical system. The city council had an engineering study done, which showed that much of our system was, to quote the engineers, a "dinosaur."

Emergency action was taken to get through the winters of 2005 and 2006, but now we are facing a $3.5 million dollar upgrade and how to fund it. The electric system is the most urgent need but not the only one.

Additional costs that face the city are the same that face each one of us at our homes. These are: rising fuel costs, rising health insurance premiums, rising supplies and equipment costs, just to name a few. To put it simply, it cost more each year to provide the level of service (police, water, electric, streets, fire protection, etc--) we are used to in New Madrid.

We need the help of our citizens to tell us what they want and expect. Do we raise rates? Do we decrease services? Do we spend some of our reserves, which have been set aside by previous city councils for emergencies? Or do we use a combination of all these ideas or some ideas that were not even mentioned here? The city council and city employees have spent a tremendous number of hours doing research and rate studies, along with numerous hours of discussion about the impact of all these ideas on our citizens. We realize this decision is critical to the future of New Madrid.

I appreciate last week's "Letter to the Editor." Elected officials do need to be in touch with the citizens. The problem is most citizens don't attend city council meetings, where the city business is being done. We live in a society where some people are more content to sit and complain about what someone else is doing or not doing than they are to get involved with a proactive solution. We would like to change that. Tuesday, April 17th at 7 p.m. at the Mill Street community building there will be the first in a series of Town Hall meetings. Everyone is welcome. The intention is not to have a "gripe" session, but to get citizens together in an informal setting to discuss the future of our city. New Madrid is a great town, and I believe that together we can keep it a safe and affordable place for our families to live.

Mayor Donnie Brown New Madrid