Our newly seated councilwomen and mayor will barely finish their congratulatory cake before they must jump into the middle of some highly controversial, yet critical, issues impacting every resident in some way.
The new city policymakers have publicly pledged that all business will be conducted openly, and all information will be publicly disclosed. It's not clear yet how city attorneys, staff, Texas Municipal League, and Attorney General will react to certain state and federal laws on confidentiality or privacy being ignored by an entity's governing body and what sanctions could be imposed.
Soon the newcomers of the council chamber will be presented with intense information regarding city finances, income and budget projections for the next 10 years. This is not information that can simply be dismissed because it does not fit into Council's spin, plans, or prior commitments to supporters. This information and potential scenarios form the survival base of the community, and can determine whether or not Alice is plunged deeper into fiscal crisis.
The reality is that there is only so much revenue to work with despite increasing demands and costs, as well as unexpected expenses that could send finances into a free fall.
Much debate will continue on the Multi Use Complex/Natatorium. But there are two costly items connected to the MUC that are being forgotten by both council and administration. Depreciation and emergency breakdowns. These natatoriums and water parks do not have long lifespans before complete renovation or replacement becomes necessary. Also, unexpected equipment failure or facility repairs is a serious and costly concern. A substantial amount of funds must be put aside each year to cover such situations and $100,000 is not an unrealistic yearly amount according to pool management sources. However, Alice has not yet touched on these issues that have been raised.
Water is a necessity for quality of life and place. A critical question is how much longer we can afford to overlook the aging and struggling water production and distribution system that serves our town. The pipeline and Lake Findley pump station are vital links that will require attention as study and discussion continue on alternative supply sources and mechanisms. Water and adequate pressure play a significant role in any opportunity for community development proposed projects. City water towers, will at some point, at least require extensive maintenance and perhaps replacement or construction of an additional one to provide expanded service and sufficient pressure for customers. All of these needs and options come with a high sticker price.
In this time of limited resources, city coffers and assets must be carefully protected and managed. Annual budgets must be cautiously scrutinized and closely monitored with ongoing adjustment.
Council's priorities will determine our financial direction and fate. Unfortunately, there is no room for either neglect or mindless error.