One of the more onerous – and underappreciated – jobs of city government is ensuring that basic services are kept on track, and are affordable for citizens.
In recent years, it has become apparent in Jackson that overhauls are overdue in terms of water lines and sewer treatment – and handling waste remains a thorny issue.
When the City Council discussed raising garbage and sewer fees to reflect the costs of replacement and maintenance of water treatment and costs incurred in waste management, outcry ensued. But keeping these services adequate and meeting federal regulations – not to mention meeting health, safety and environmental standards – requires ongoing diligence. And all must be done to keep fees, taxes and expenses at an affordable level.
It’s quite a task and a thankless one for city leaders, but essential to the city’s quality of life and progress.
The key to staying on top of these issues is to have rigorous ongoing maintenance to keep track of what needs to be replaced while developing an overall plan for current and future needs with the costs spread out over time.
Unfortunately, for years, city leaders going back to the old city commission days tended to shove these concerns under the rug, failing to confront them. It’s understandable: Fixing these things has a tremendous price tag and taxpayers do not want to hear of it – until the water stops, sewers back up, garbage fees skyrocket.
The result is that the city has to play catch-up to meet standards and anticipate future needs. The challenge for those on the ballot Tuesday is to pledge that the city will not find itself in such a situation again. That requires commitment, even courage, for a thankless but essential task.