2008 general municipal election results: 73 percent of the residents did not vote, leaving 27 percent of you in charge. Perhaps the presidential and state political races have saturated your thoughts and local government seems inconsequential. I propose just the opposite. A significant portion of your property tax and sales tax money stays in your community, and that is where the city gets the money to provide your city services. Your local government officials set water and sewer rates, decide the number of police officers on the beat and decide when, and if, parks are upgraded and so on. Your local elected officials make these decisions every second and fourth Monday of the month all year.
Early in 2009, Homer citizens will be invited to participate in the “Citizens Leadership Academy,” an eight-week “Local Government 101” course. You will learn how your city works, how and why government processes seem slow and ineffective, and how your tax dollars are collected, distributed and used.
Being a well-informed citizen is your option; however, I believe it is the city’s responsibility to offer the information.
A well-informed community steps up to the challenges of today and tomorrow. When economic hard times come around, analyzing what public services will be discontinued becomes Issue number one. Where do we tighten our belts? What a subjective call on the part of those you elected. You understanding the financial dilemma is the first step in helping to solve the issues.
I urge you to consider participating in the academy starting in March, 2009. Upon graduation, hopefully you will become foot soldiers for local government by joining your neighbors and friends who already serve on one of the boards and commissions, and just maybe looking forward to Aug. 1, 2009, when the filing period opens for city council seats.
Electing me as your city council representative is an obligation I take very seriously. I ask you to join me in working to make Homer all that it can be. Thank you.
Barbara Howard is a Homer City Council
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