OUR VIEW - The desperate situation in Willard

We've said it before: Government exists for two main reasons to protect its citizens from chaos and to haul away their trash. But these essential services don't come free. Take the events of this week for example. Road crews were out all across the state and police even had to be called out in some areas to help. The harsh winter weather will take its toll on the roads, causing heaving and potholes.
Norwalk Reflector Staff
Jul 24, 2010

We've said it before: Government exists for two main reasons to protect its citizens from chaos and to haul away their trash. But these essential services don't come free.

Take the events of this week for example. Road crews were out all across the state and police even had to be called out in some areas to help. The harsh winter weather will take its toll on the roads, causing heaving and potholes.

Now, imagine having to choose between having the money to fix the roads in the spring, or being able to have enough police patrolling them.

That's the situation facing the city of Willard. In November, voters rejected a two-year income tax increase of .5 percent that would have helped pay for road repairs and increased fire and police forces. Now, the city will put a five-year, .25 percent increase on the ballot in May and it will only pay for police service.

City Manager Brian Humphress said that if the levy does not pass, eventually, there is not going to be enough revenue to support fire and police and road projects, which are particularly vulnerable because they are so expensive. However, these services are absolutely essential, which means the cuts will have to come from already bare-boned city departments. If the levy fails, the police also won't be able to be as active in fighting the pervasive drug problems in the area.

The citizens of Willard need to understand what is at stake. It is shameful that the city must choose between fire, police and road maintenance.

We understand some residents are struggling to make ends meet. However, the income tax rate in the city will go down this fall even if the new levy passes, because another, larger city levy used to pay for water plant improvements is coming off the books in September.

So, if Willard voters approved the levy they would still pay less income tax then they do today and receive much needed services, even if it's only a fraction of what the city truly needs. If citizens fail to act ... well let's just say they were warned of the potential repercussions.