Less than three months into her first term as mayor of Vine Grove, Pam Ogden made a bold statement about the financial state of her city.
“We don’t have enough money to run the city,” she said at a March 18 city council meeting. “We were in a stagnant situation.”
That comment came prior to a vote of whether to raise the city’s occupational tax from 1.5 percent to 2 percent. City Council approved the increase at the mayor’s urging, generating a projected additional $175,000 a year. The money is scheduled to increase the police department force.
The occupational tax increase for someone earning $30,000 a year would mean less than $3 a week is additionally coming off paychecks in Vine Grove.
The city also has raised its sewer rates, going from $8.54 to $9.82 for the first 1,000 gallons of sewer water used and 63 cents for each additional 100 gallons more than 1,000 gallons – an increase from 55 cents.
And, the city now imposes a meter fee of $5.92 on monthly water bills to offset the cost to replace aged meters.
The three increases came within a 105-day period and on the heels of a $2 a month increase in December for trash service with Borders Disposal.
Still remains is the much discussed aging city hall, which presents a shabby look to residents and visitors with its siding peeling.
That also will come with a steep price tag.
Ogden has said she wanted to get some issues/items taken care of initially before going full speed into the city hall decision.
Described by former mayor Blake Proffitt as “my Mayberry,” Vine Grove is taking on a look of more like Mount Pilot in the classic Andy Griffith Show series.
As the city has grown, so have the needs, and wants, of a community on the go. With that comes a cost for operating the city.
There are tough decisions that have been made and that will be made, and many of them will take money out of pockets. It’s part of operating city government.
Ogden and council members should be applauded for their diligent work in trying to make progress in Vine Grove and for challenging each other in council meetings.
It’s good, healthy dialogue and disagreeing with each other doesn’t mean each doesn’t want what is best for the 6,000 residents or so of the city.
Raising taxes and fees is never popular and a risky political move for all involved. In the end, it’s better to have elected officials looking past contentment and the status quo to seek ways to offer more to residents, whether that’s community events, increased police protection or better utility services.
This editorial represent a consensus of The News-Enterprise editorial board.