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A lot of promises were made by candidates vying for your vote during the most recent campaign season. Some promises communicated a sincere desire to improve upon the status quo. Others, at least to us, seemed nothing more than disingenuous attempts to woo a vote. Some centered on issues that were within the scope of responsibilities for the office a candidate sought, while others related to issues over which they’d have little, if any, influence.
For each candidate elected, however, at least a few promises hit the mark of importance with the majority of voters.
For each of these, one thing is clear. Their success or failure to deliver on these promises and priorities will be the measure of their effectiveness in office.
While every engaged voter will be marking progress made by his or her candidates of choice, the following issues appear to be among the most important for newly elected officials to cast their focus.
At the state level, the first and foremost important order of business is a balanced and effective budget. Our elected delegates have to exhibit leadership to set partisan politics aside, work with peer representatives on both sides of the aisle and achieve this goal during the regular session of the General Assembly. We expect no more costly special sessions to get this work done. Simply stated, without an appropriate and fiscally responsible budget, nothing of lasting value will be accomplished in Frankfort or across the commonwealth.
Our state leaders also must work more closely as a team in representing the best interests of Hardin County. We’d like to see Dwight Butler, C.B. Embry, Jeff Greer, Jimmie Lee, Tim Moore and Dennis Parrett come together and provide more opportunities for local residents to access them as a group to hear firsthand the issues that are important to constituents. Periodic town hall meetings could serve to accomplish this goal.
At the county level, it will be important for the newly elected Fiscal Court to maintain the strong trend of fiscal responsibility established during Judge-Executive Harry Berry’s administration. To accomplish this for the long term, Judge Berry and magistrates must carefully accomplish operational improvements at the landfill and hospital.
As the collection and conversion of methane gas to electricity generates a relatively new cash flow at Pearl Hollow Landfill, balancing its budget must be achieved through an effective means of increasing tonnage hauled in, negotiating a new tipping fee contract with haulers involved or a combination of both.
In their role as trustees of Hardin Memorial Hospital, newly elected magistrates must work closely with administrators to continue to improve its bottom line. Together, they must find ways to get back on track capital improvement projects that have been tabled. While it was important in the short run to hold off on these projects to address the financial shortfall forecasted earlier in the year for the hospital, delays on these important improvements only will grow more costly with time.
It also will be important to effectively work the newly acquired private surgical practice, its surgeons and staff into hospital operation. These acquisitions offer great depth and breadth of service access, convenience and cost-savings opportunity for hospitals and patients alike, but also have a degree of risk as well. Failure to accomplish the improvement opportunities will drive value down for taxpayers.
Within the cities of Elizabethtown, Radcliff and Vine Grove, three new mayors and a combination of returning and new players on their councils will be running the business within their respective city governments. Across each, we’d like to see a more proactive approach in working together on projects that cross city boundaries. While each body will have issues that are specific and local to their municipalities, there are other broader opportunities that can improve the greater good, too.
One need only look to the priority list developed by Hardin County United to see where the potential exists.
For Elizabethtown specifically, a clear operating budget and marketing plan must be established for Elizabethtown Sports Park. While this board has supported the park, both for the potential it can deliver on economic development and local recreational use, we’re growing more anxious with each passing month regarding the vagueness of its short- and long-term operating costs and marketing targets.
Mayor-elect Tim Walker and council members also must clearly establish the next steps to be taken with storm water drainage projects across the city; implement an effective approach to revitalization of the downtown district; and develop incentives that will position existing and potential new employers to expand and locate within the city to provide more job opportunities for residents.
In Radcliff, city council and Mayor-elect J.J. Duvall must work closely with Fort Knox and state government on road projects that will address traffic across and through the city. These leaders also must find ways to increase the city’s revenue streams without over-taxing its businesses and residents. And further improvements to the Mill Pond industrial park will be important to successfully marketing it to industries looking to relocate or expand.
In Vine Grove, it will be important for Mayor-elect Blake Proffitt and city council members to balance the challenges the small community faces with BRAC transitions, with maintaining its quaint, small town charm. Infrastructure improvements continue to be a hurdle for the community to tackle as traffic and residential development grows.
While these issues are by no means an exhaustive list of priorities for local and state leaders to address, they are what we view to be among those at the top of the list. Measured improvement will be what we look for on these issues during the coming year and terms of office for newly elected officials. Success with any or all will help to improve quality of life across Hardin County.
This editorial represents a consensus of The News-Enterprise editorial board.