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Same old, same old

Mayor Jess Alumbaugh has made it known that he intends to give the Grant County Economic Growth Council money because they’ve been working on behalf of the city. He plans to do this in spite of city finances being unsettled at best and in spite of a pledge when he was first elected to stop the practice of the Seybold administration in handing over tax money to nonprofits.

“Financially we need to be good stewards with the taxpayer dollars, and those dollars are first and foremost intended to serve the needs of the city, and, quite honestly, as I looked at the way we give to nonprofits, I’m not sure the mayor should ever have the power to take taxpayer dollars, which were intended for city services, and redirect them to a nonprofit or a few nonprofits,” Alumbaugh said a month after he took office.

As we have observed, people change after they are elected. Alumbaugh is no different. He has already been pledging money to Main Street Marion. That money helps Main Street win grants so we suppose it’s somewhat justifiable. But the reasoning behind handing over city money to the Growth Council is because: “They’ve been working at the end of this month of June three and a half years for us on almost a daily basis.”

Yes, Mr. Mayor, we suppose they have. So has the Grant County Community Foundation, Marion General Hospital, the Grant County Family YMCA, the Senior Center and all the other nonprofit organizations in the community.

The Growth Council has maintained a staff and its operation across the entire three years without city money. It also threw money to college graduates in order to entice them to live in Grant County, whether or not they were going to be living in Grant County to begin with, through the now defunct Grant for Grads program. And the Growth Council became deeply involved in the planning for a new-looking downtown Marion, which isn’t exactly its job.

Such economic development groups concoct ways to lure employers to localities. In Grant County that has meant tax increment financing deals that have helped pushed the city deep into debt. What employers we have landed in recent times who also stayed delivered a lot of low skill and low wage jobs that employers are finding hard to fill.

It is the old way of doing business but it is a way to which Alumbaugh has apparently become wedded.

Assuming the City Council goes along, and there is no reason to think a majority of that crew won’t, we will turn over more money to the Growth Council so they can keep doing what they were being paid to do anyway, only with greater vigor. And we can keep getting the same results we have gotten for a generation or more.

Could we, maybe, sometime, pay or police and fire department leadership what they were promised and give them the tools needed to fight crime. We think the violence in Marion is a real stumbling block to development and getting people to move their families here.

Maybe we could do that if we don’t run out of money.