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Numbers must pan out for city after rewarding its employees

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My Views

By Thomas Barr

 The turnaround has been nothing short of unbelievable.

Two years ago, mayor Scott Ellis walked into his new office as Shepherdsville’s chief executive.

He quickly found himself swimming in a sea of red ink.

Bills were not being paid and contractors were probably more patient than anyone should expect.

Talks of filing bankruptcy were in the air as city officials tried to figure out a way to pay its current and long-term debts.

Two major ways to tackling the issue meant increases to those who work or reside in the city.

First, the council opted to increase sewer rates by 66 percent. Granted, the rates had not been increased for several years but a 66 percent hike is hard to swallow.

This would  help make debt service payments on the new sewer plant.

Second, the council agreed to add .5 percent to its occupational tax rate. This would make it 1.5 percent, a far cry from our friends to the north but still at the top of the heap in Bullitt County.

It appears the added revenue measures, as well as belt-tightening and smaller work force, has helped.

The city council, which included four new members, voted 4-2 last Monday to accept a proposal handed forth by Ellis.

Included in the proposal was to utilize carryover money from the previous budget to help fund salary increases and staff additions.

And there was enough money carried forward to allow for the retirement of several debt obligations.

Some will remain skeptical of the wisdom in spending the money. Some will be pleased with the decision.

The bottom line is that Ellis and the councilmembers who voted in favor of the measure will be held responsible.

One thing going in the city’s favor is that members are getting much more financial information than in the past.

They have financial information from which to make a decision. They won’t be assuming this or guessing about that. They will now have all the latest information.

Ellis is correct in his interview that the employees were promised that if they hung tough through the lean times, the city would make it up to them.

Those who remained employed have been rewarded. And there will be added employees to provide more services to the people of Shepherdsville.

Our only hope is that the quick decision, in the new council’s first meeting, will not be a point of regret down the road.

The city must provide services for its people. But it must also provide a hawk’s eye watch on how the tax dollars are being spent.