Monday, June 6, 2016

Discussing Vernon's Future: Communication is Key

by Chris Robertson

I am grateful for the interest and positive feedback I received on the introduction of my op-ed series about the upcoming city elections and the future of Vernon. I understand that Vernon is a small town with a lot of family connections, and many people don’t feel comfortable voicing their opinions publicly. Just keep sending me those texts, Facebook messages, and pulling me to the side when you see me in town. I will be happy to be your voice when it comes to asking questions and seeking answers about your concerns for your city government. In my introduction, I wanted to make sure that readers understand my goal. I wanted to give credit where credit is due for the good people working hard to make Vernon better. Now in “Part One,” it is time to start discussing ideas for improvement.

In one of my all-time favorite movies Cool Hand Luke, Captain (Strother Martin) expounds upon the situation by telling Luke (Paul Newman), “What we've got here is failure to communicate.” A lack of communication raises questions where there should be none and leads to distrust and suspicion. Unfortunately, we have a communication problem with our current administration.

I have already stated my case against the way the city sales tax increase was implemented in the past. I have talked to several local business owners since writing that piece and asked them how they learned about the tax increase. All of them told me they read about it in the paper. It is tough for small town businesses to compete against the big boys, and this tax increase made it a little tougher. I understand the need for more funding as costs of infrastructure skyrocket. I’m not even arguing that the tax increase was not justified, but it certainly was not communicated to the community properly. It would not have taken much time or effort for the current administration to meet with local business owners, give a brief explanation of why the increase was necessary, and listen to their concerns. But that did not happen, or at least not with the businesses with whom I spoke.