By L&T Publisher Erl Watt
It’s that time of year when we start thinking about shedding a few extra pounds or focusing on a personal goal for 2014. This is also a great time to think about our community and what we want to accomplish together over the next 12 months.
Here are a few New Year’s Resolutions to consider for us all.
Make 2014 a year of growth.
Liberal has been facing a housing crunch that has slowed our economic growth.
If we want to see more businesses come to Liberal, we need to address housing.
This could be the year when that problem starts to subside.
Already there are housing proposals across the east side from the north to the south.
According to job availability sources, there are more than 400 jobs available in Liberal, but finding housing for job seekers has been a problem.
With these new housing projects ready to start building in 2014, Liberal can see a quick increase.
There has already been a project platted and approved near the Village Plaza, and two other projects are in the stages of final approval near the Southgate Mall and behind the Liberal Inn.
With community support, 2014 can be the year we solve our housing issue.
Economic development needs to be ready to move.
While we all want to see more economic opportunities in the community, we have to be patient and allow the housing growth to take place first.
When construction begins on new neighborhoods, Liberal becomes a more attractive target to businesses. Franchise companies want to be a part of a growing community, not simply trying to battle for a piece of the pie already being shared by everyone else.
Another area that is working behind the scenes on Liberal’s behalf is Retail Attractions. This organization works with companies on their long-range growth plans. Many companies already know where they are going to expand in 2014 and 2015. It takes a company like Retail Attractions to work with these companies to let them know how Liberal can fit into their future plans.
If we want Liberal to go the right way, it starts with housing and working directly with companies through a company like Retail Attractions. We need to show patience in 2014 in retail growth.
Get informed on the school issue and do something.
Another sign of a growing community is the need for expanding our schools.
This is not a battle where there is an option of doing nothing. That could be the most expensive choice we can make.
If we do not get involved in the process of determining a plan that can pass, the district will be forced to purchase more portable classes which have higher operational costs. This will force more tax increases as well as utilizing the Local Option Budget. The cost will be 100 percent on the local home owners, and the schools still will be busting at the seams.
But a plan that includes state investment as well as sales tax could reduce the property owner’s burden to as little as 18 percent.
The first few months of 2014 will be critical in reaching a final plan and a vote.
There will always be arguments against any plan that is presented. Some may believe whatever is presented goes too far, others not enough.
Make sure you are informed on the challenges and the proposals to address them.
Make a decision that will not just be a temporary reduction in cost, but a long-term economic plan. The simple fact is saying yes or no will result in higher costs. The difference is whether or not we want homeowners to shoulder 100 percent or 18 percent of the cost over time.
These are a few resolutions for 2014. Go to our web site at leaderandtimes.com or our facebook page and share yours.