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ISSUE: Moving forward in 2013
OUR VIEW: Much work ahead for government
Today, the first day of 2013 seems promising. The 12 months ahead might be just a measure of time, really, but today is somehow symbolic and motivating. Just as thousands of Hardin Countians seize that inspiration and make New Year’s resolutions, it’s a good time for leaders to consider goals for this brand new year.
There’s a lot going on in our city, county, state and beyond; one would find no shortage of goals to adopt.
Come December, when we reflect on the happenings to 2013, success will be measured by growth in our economy and our quality of life, new efficiencies leveraged and investments made to secure future success.
Industrial growth will be key throughout Hardin County and Kentucky in 2013. City and county leaders must seek out more opportunities to sell the area and build relationships, be that directly, as Elizabethtown Mayor Tim Walker did in 2012 when he visited several businesses in India or indirectly through state government connections. With Flex Film’s plant in Elizabethtown expected to start production this month, the year will start on a positive economic note, but encouraging well-paying jobs is an endeavor that never stops.
Radcliff Mayor J.J. Duvall has said 2013 will bring an economic focus to that city, after quality-of-life issues took center stage last year. After examining business development outside Fort Benning, Ga., he thinks the city will need to review its tax incentives and possibly change the way it taxes businesses to increase its competitiveness.
The northern part of the county does not enjoy the mix of major retail and restaurant business as Elizabethtown. Working together, 2013 could be the year regional development is embraced and those opportunities stretch farther up U.S. 31W.
Also, the new year could bring Hardin Countians a gem of government efficiency with the return of Hardin County Commonwealth’s Attorney office’s rocket docket. The program expedites less serious cases, saving time in court and possibly time in an already overcrowded jail.
In the coming months, Hardin Countians ideally will hear more definitive plans for county offices. This could be a building year as the county has budgeted construction of a new E-911 center, a fourth EMS station and design work for a new county government center.
A local option election next week will determine if Elizabethtown establishments may be licensed to sell liquor by the drink without restrictions concerning seating capacity and food sales. If passed, the rule will be a critical boost to downtown development and could provide real momentum for local business development. Revitalization would be secured further if business owners and local officials could address sooner, rather than later, the issues that will arise if county government vacates downtown.
At a state level, many issues await legislators in the upcoming session of the Kentucky General Assembly. The state’s expensive retirement system, tax reform, education spending and other seemingly perennial issues will be debated as will, some predict, issues such as industrial hemp and school safety.
This ought to be a year to resolve an aging statewide issue, too. Some might think it matters little when so many funding issues put critical services in jeopardy, but redistricting must be complete. Its conclusion symbolizes the value elected officials put on our right to be properly represented in state government.
Representatives should have devised a workable plan in the session following the 2010 census, but their plan was overturned in 2012 by the state Supreme Court because it divided more counties than necessary.
Boundaries are redrawn so that each district has about the same number of people. Still based on 2000 populations, some areas that have enjoyed growth since are not fairly represented while areas that have lost population maintain more than their fair share of voice in Frankfort.
As with any set of goals, the achievements of 2013 will include addressing new, unforeseen challenges. The test of government’s success, as always, will be emerging with effective and insightful solutions without getting bogged down in political rancor.