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Headed in the right direction

The City of Demopolis presently sits nearly two months into the current fiscal year without one valuable administrative tool: a budget.

Wrangling over deficits, cuts, expenditures and the practicality of all of the above has drug this process out nearly three months.

Early on, there was a push from the public to get the budget “right”. Right to most meant the elimination of the deficit while continuing to provide the basic services we’ve all come to enjoy.

Those voices have waned at the council meetings recently.

The most vocal over the last three or more meetings has been Mr. Don Singleton, who is a resident of Sunset Road. The paving of Sunset has been one of the debated items holding the budget up from the beginning. He’s made sure his voice has been heard.

I’ve been encouraged by some of the progress I’ve witnessed over the past few weeks.

Those of us who have gathered in attendance at council meetings know, at times, the wheels of politics move frustratingly slow.

I’ve not seen those wheels move much faster lately but I feel they are moving forward.

There are several key issues that appear headed toward resolution.

1. Sunset Road paving. There is sentiment among much of the council that much of this work can be accomplished for far less than the expected $280,000-plus. Over the coming weeks it would appear that sentiment has grown. It may or may not be accomplished at a level that will satisfy some, but it appears that it will get done. I think the support to push this through is there and I believe this hurdle has been cleared.

2. Lem Wilson Road water. The city has an opportunity to provide two homes on that road with water access and improve water pressure to the remaining homes on the street. Originally, this was expected to cost the city more than $180,000. The water department has stepped in and agreed to handle this project themselves. Some of the particulars are different but access will improve nonetheless. Early on, this was a major issue but it now appears to have softened. The majority of the council appears ready to climb this mountain and move on.

3. Fire Station No. 2 renovation. In my observation, this is the white elephant in the room. I believe it’s the last obstacle to jump en route to passing the budget. A meeting with the USDA Tuesday may improve the position on either side. However, it could also further entrench those on both sides of the issue. At $750,000, this project is big for several reasons. First, cosmetically, it needs to be done. Second, that it’s tied to a potential multimillion-dollar bond issue, it’s the single largest expense item in the budget. The parameters of the USDA loan at this time are unknown, so I’ll not hazard a guess at the potential outcome there.

What I do know is a lot of work has been done to get us to the point where we are now and more remains to cross the finish line. Thus far, the council has done a pretty good job at whittling down several big sticking points to, in my perception, to just one big one.

I do not expect the budget, regardless of what it looks like in the end, to pass unanimously. But, it does’t have to. It just has to pass.

I think we’re on path to that and I expect to cross that finish line soon.

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