An opinion piece submitted by Mayor Tom Watson
OBKY, what a wonderful place to live, work and play.
We are the envy of so many communities as we are too big to be little, too little to be big. That makes us just right.
Over the last year and a half, after returning as Mayor, I have been so blessed to serve again in my hometown.
The past 18 months or so we have had a few ups and downs, which is to be expected with a community of hard-working, extremely welcoming, independent thinking folks.
As we move into high gear to elect four commissioners that will participate in guiding the city for at least the next two years, I believe we should all take a deep breath and try to understand the issues, and most importantly get out and VOTE. You know the saying, “You can’t gripe if you don’t vote.”
On the horizon is the grand opening of the Bluegrass Music Hall of Fame & Museum, a $15 million investment in downtown redevelopment, a much-needed parking garage and the possibility of another hotel. All of these amenities help keep the momentum going, add additional tourism dollars and hopefully aid in the creation of a downtown entertainment district.
So I ask the question, where does this community go from here, and how do we get there?
Obviously, I feel as many others do, with any plan or project there are always costs.
We experienced that last year when your taxes needed to be raised to keep our head above water while the commission grappled to find revenue streams to pay for all the amenities that make up the landscape of OBKY.
As we move into the second budget, hoping to have a little extra revenue after all the bills are paid, we must make some decisions that are for the good of all, even if it is at the risk of upsetting one or two.
The unknown pension costs and having the revenue to make those payments for years to come is one of those difficult times when the benefits of all must be considered.
Now that House Bill 151 has made it’s way to the high court, the uncertainty is even greater.
That uncertainty is the elephant in the room that our elected officials and our city staff must constantly monitor. Some may say not to worry about it because the TIF (tax increment financing) will save the day, but no one is sure when that day will come.
That’s why we must constantly be thinking of ways to save where we can, and possibly accumulate reserves.
But who is willing to step forward and say, “What can we do to help?”
Most will say don’t cut my funding, we are doing great work, cut the other guy.
What sacrifice is some group willing to make for the good of the community that will lower the taxpayers’ contribution and bring money to the bottom line and avoid another tax increase?
As I have said before, we are just right.
We are all in this together. The sooner we take off our individual badges and don the commUNITY hat, we will find the results even more satisfying as we enjoy our wonderful life in OBKY.