Council should ignore the recommendations of a report, which argues that the district could not justify the hiring of a full-time person responsible for various economic development services because “the district does not have adequate demand for these services to dedicate a full-time resource.”
Such reasoning strikes us short-sighted, if not fundamentally flawed. This community finds itself during a phase of decline. Three years of economic uncertainty triggered by the worst recession since the Great Depression will inevitably leave their mark. The list of businesses that have closed their doors during this period is unfortunately lengthy and well-known. But it gets worse.
As Mayor Janice Perrino recently reminded the public, the community loses some 200 people every year.
This trajectory does not bode well for the community and its remaining residents, who will inevitably have to bear the costly burden of this development through higher taxes, fewer services or both.
It might not be inappropriate to hold the line on public expenses by hiring a part-time economic development officer or combining the position with another post to create a full-time job, as the report recommends. But this reminds us of a petulant birthday child who wants to have the celebratory cake and eat it too.
If economic conditions are as dire as they appear, would it not make sense to invest a significant amount of resources to reverse them? One might say that the district is considering such a move by hiring a part-time economic development officer.
Half efforts produce half results. Granted, it might be an improvement over past practices, but such a low threshold for success says as much about our current circumstances and the future ambitions of our elected officials.