We listened Saturday with a great deal of excitement as Wendell commissioners talked seriously about taking on several large initiatives in town, ranging from parks and recreation improvements to major investments in technology for downtown.
The board has heard Mayor Tim Hinnant over the last few months talk about the need for possibly floating a bond to meet some of these needs sometime after the next election. But on Saturday at a town board retreat, Hinnant moderated his stance, suggesting that the town probably shouldn’t wait that long.
He could not be more right. Wendell has long lagged behind other communities in terms of public facilities and public infrastructure. And though the town continues to seek grant opportunities, the fact is that’s a fiercely competitive arena to win in. And when Wendell loses, it gets nothing.
Making a commitment to significant infrastructure improvements like town leaders discussed at their retreat last weekend through bonds or a loan is less competitive and leaves the decision in the hands of Wendell folk, not others.
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There is an adage that it takes money to make money. That certainly applies here. Wendell wants to grow and provide more services here than residents have had access to in the past. That should be the goal of government at every level. If town leaders bite the bullet now and begin to provide a foundation for growth, that investment will be returned in spades. We believe that strongly.
And we’re beyond thrilled that town leaders seem willing to invest in that way.
There are many hard decisions ahead if the town board continues to move in this direction? How much money does the town really need to make the most significant impact? How much would it cost the town to borrow that money, either in the form of voter-approved bonds or a board-approved loan? How much of a tax increase would be required to repay that money? How will growth in Wendell Falls moderate the cost other taxpayers would have to pay? And, when the rubber meets the road, what are the most important projects to take on?
They are questions worth exploring and we believe townspeople will appreciate the forward-looking nature of this town board if they follow through and invest significantly in the town they serve.