It’s a well-worn cliché among elected leaders that previous administrations have paid for study after study that simply collected dust on a shelf.
The town of Wendell is at just such a crossroads of its own in the wake of last week’s presentation regarding the extension of fiber cable and Wi-Fi service in downtown.
The town has paid to have both issues studied and they’ve fielded recommendations from staff and consultants regarding how to proceed.
The challenge that faces commissioners, of course, is that the cost of implementing those recommendations (or even some of them) can be costly. Really costly.
And, in commissioners’ defense, those are not decisions to be made lightly.
The town has created an informal group led by Commissioner Sam Laughery who is, himself, a retired IT professional, to consider the recommendations and come back with their own recommendation to the town board.
As commissioners wrestle with the issue, they have basically two options:
• ignore the recommendations and do nothing. That serves only to perpetuate the cliché. Doing that would keep the town from spending money and raising taxes or incurring debt. It would also maintain the status quo in terms of Wendell’s technological capabilities, something that drew snickers from the crowd at last week’s town board meeting.
• The town could bite the bullet and invest in the infrastructure that is already a huge part of commerce and quality of life in cities and towns all over the country. Commissioners have discussed the possibility of floating a bond, or taking out a traditional loan to pay for some large dollar projects, including technology. So there is a way to pay for it without having the money in the bank or burdening taxpayers with an unbearable debt load.
Commissioners can choose their path. We hope they will choose to invest in the town’s future and find a way to pay for improvements that, arguably, will have the biggest impact on Wendell since the first streets were paved.