Starve a weed, feed a deficit

Staff Writer
Woodford Times

Neglect is the root cause of weeds. Neglect can also be the root cause of a municipal budget in the red. In both cases, there is one action to overcome the issue — trim.

Our city council, however, has some trouble seeing that, at least when it comes to, of all things, weeds.

Last week, as the council heard a report from interim city manager Henry Holling about the city budget, they received some good news.

He told the council a looming $3.3 million deficit had been trimmed to $350,000.

Fifth District councilman Pat Nichting said, “We are far better off than many communities,” Nichting said. 

The question is: Will we remain so?

That $350,000 deficit jumped $50,000 further into the red before the meeting was over.

There may be signs of stability in the budget, but what about signs of sanity?

The reason the deficit took a $50,000 hike is at-large councilman George Jacob asked for and received approval to put weed control back in the budget.

Jacob told his fellow council members that weeds are a quality-of-life issue. No argument here.

Jacob went on to say quality-of-life issues constitute the majority of concerns he hears from constituents. There is no doubt that is true.

Jacob’s heart is in the right place. He is a tireless advocate for quality-of-life issues. We applaud that.

We have to say, though, our capacity for admiration of Jacob’s advocacy has a limit. And, it has been reached.

No one likes to look at unsightly weeds. And, apparently, the city wants to foster an attitude that no one should deal with them except the city. That is the wrong message to send.

An entitlement mind set plays well in Washington, D.C., and Springfield, but does not play well with all in Peoria.

Second District councilwoman Barbara Van Auken said she was amazed that multi-million-dollar companies with stores in Peoria cannot take care of weeds in front of their places of business.

“It’s such a sorry sight,” she said. “It’s a sad, sad day when we have to do this.”

Third District councilman Bob Manning added, “Unfortunately, we live in a day and age when property owners of all kinds have abandoned their responsibility.”

We have to join Van Auken and Manning in their sentiments. If citizens and business owners took care of the weeds that pop up on public property around their place of business or home, we could trim the budget by $50,000. Granted, that is not much in a budget that approaches $130 million, but it is a start.

 And, while we are agreeing with sentiments expressed by council members, let us add our support to one made by Nichting.

He listened to the debate and added, “No matter what we cut, someone will be impacted. The cure may be worse than this issue.”

Hard decisions lie ahead. Trimming weeds from the budget should be an easy one.

It was not. The council voted 10-0 to put weed control back in the budget for now.

This action fosters the idea that when a constituent has a complaint, they should wait for the city to handle it, rather than taking a little initiative of their own. Neglect of responsibility is exactly how weeds and municipal budgets grow out of control.

We cannot also afford a deficit of responsible thinking at city hall.