Partly Cloudy

Enterprise, Alabama - City of Progress
Enterprise, Alabama – City of Progress

I was fortunate to be able to attend the Mayor’s State of the City luncheon last week. I am grateful for that opportunity to visit with friends both old and new, enjoy a good meal, and learn about the state of Enterprise, The City of Progress, through a presentation by Enterprise Mayor Kenneth Boswell.

In case you were not able to attend or did not see the reports in the Enterprise Ledger Friday and Sunday, the state of Enterprise is very good.

I will not repeat all of the accomplishments of 2013 and goals for 2014 mentioned as that is not my purpose here. Here is a link to the story in the Enterprise Ledger if you want to read it yourself – City looks back, ahead at State of the City Event

Much to be proud of for Enterprise

The citizens of Enterprise as well as Mayor Boswell and the City Council have much to be proud of for their role in making these achievements and progress happen. One item that stood out most to me were the 343 new jobs that will result from new and expanded businesses in Enterprise in 2014. Hopefully, many of these positions will be filled by current residents but there will be new people moving in too.

Another highlight that stood out to me was the city maintained a AA credit rating and increased its reserves from $2.8 to $4.2 million.

Clearly Enterprise, The City of Progress, is in a strong economic condition as 2014 begins.

A Conspicuous Omission

The importance of the Enterprise City School System in these achievements was mentioned only in passing. I would think any business or new employee looking at Enterprise as a potential new home does look at the health of the school system, whether they have children or not, to gauge the health of the city.

You might say the school system is not a department of the city so it should not have been mentioned at all. However, the city council appoints and therefore controls the makeup of the school board. In a perfect world after the appointment is made there would be no further influence in the activities of the school board or from school board members in the activities of city government. We do not live in a perfect world.

Still Partly Cloudy

Unfortunately, when you remove the rose-colored glasses of economic achievement there is still a dark cloud that exists in Enterprise and has since June of 2013 when these issues erupted with the resignation of the superintendent of Enterprise City Schools, one of the school board members, and the board attorney. Nothing has been done or changed since that time to give the citizens of Enterprise any expectation or hope that the actions of the Enterprise City School Board will be different in the future.

Quite the contrary, the interim superintendent did nothing to help heal or mend the rift with the citizens of Enterprise by continuing to blame them, as the board did, for these events and limiting speakers at board meetings. Also, many who were associated with or supported the former superintendent still have anxiety over their jobs and some, as recent as the December board meeting, have had these anxieties become reality.

Just so no one needs to try to read between the lines here, there is no rift or disagreement between the school board and the city officials. They are completely in sync. The rift is between these two groups and the citizens of Enterprise.

The board has chosen to ignore the people of Enterprise and do nothing to mend this rift either. They have had over six months to make an effort or gesture to indicate they realize the people did not agree with how the former superintendent was forced out of his job. I have offered several ideas in my blog posts on this issue that are mostly just common sense suggestions anyone could have expressed. No efforts have been attempted.

An Opportunity for City Officials

The current state of the city provides, I believe, a great opportunity for the Mayor and City Council to show they are interested in what is best for both Enterprise City School System and the citizens of Enterprise they represent.

Resolve Bond Repayment Issue Now

One way they could do this is by resolving and putting to rest the issue of bond repayment between the school system and the city now, in 2014.

A simple solution has been suggested multiple times that would remove any risk from the city and possibly provide even more revenues and also eliminate the debt payment from the school system. If the tax revenue stream exceeds the $550,000 then the funds would be there to pay the debt and the school system would not need to pay, what would in effect be simply a cash donation to the city that year. If the tax revenue stream falls below $550,000 then the school system pays the difference between that revenue stream and $550,000 so the debt would still be paid with no drain on the city treasury. The Mayor and City Council have seen and been aware of this solution for some time and have failed to act. Apparently the plan is to postpone resolution of this issue until 2016 and re-election season. It would only take a few hours of the attorneys time to write up this amendment and have both parties sign it and this issue would be resolved.

Should a school board member or the new superintendent choose to speak up and push for this resolution it would certainly make them stand out from “the board” and be an indication someone is listening.

New School Board Appointment

There will also be a new appointment to the school board coming up prior to June of 2014. It may have already been made and just not be public yet. In any case, this is another opportunity for the Mayor and City Council to show whether they will continue the direction of the past or listen to the people they represent and make an appointment that would begin to lead in a new direction.

The only recourse the citizens have is to contact the mayor and their councilman regarding their disappointment with past appointments and make recommendations for future appointments. If they ignore their constituents then the only recourse is electing new city councilmen and mayor at the next election who will listen.

Citizens Are Watching

The state of the City of Progress is very good. Why don’t we make it great and remove the cloud hanging over Enterprise?

The citizens of Enterprise will be watching.

The way I see it now is still partly cloudy. What do you think?

Until next time…

Originally posted on Peculiar Perspective on 01/29/2014

Previous posts on this issue referenced in this post are listed below for your convenience and provide more background information if you are interested.

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