Worry may be unavoidable in the challenges that face Pacific, but it is not the most effective response.
Residents who voice their opinions to this reporter are all atwitter about issues that face Pacific and the lack of a clear message from our leaders.
Talk on the street focuses on the two proposed tax increases that face voters in the April 2 municipal election and the proposed merger of St. Louis County and St. Louis City that could remove a portion of Pacific’s tax base from current city government.
The question I keep hearing on the possible merger is “Should we continue to spend money on the Red Cedar if St. Louis County is going to take it from the city?”
The argument is that it won’t be our museum and welcome center if it is in the city of St. Louis.
That may be an unnecessary worry.
First, there is no guarantee that the group that wants to make all of St. Louis County part of the new Metro St. Louis can pull off their merger. They have to convince voters across the state to approve the plan in the November 2020 election.
Pacific has as much of a voice and as much time as any political entity to convince Missouri voters to say no.
Worse case, if the merger is approved, the easily identifiable Red Cedar building would still sit at the doorstep of the historic City of Pacific. It would still be an icon of the city’s history. And Pacific owns the Red Cedar building and will continue to own it even if the city limit boundary moves.
So let’s not panic.
One proponent of continued renovation of the building says we should work as quickly as possible to create our museum and visitor center in the building so it would go into any new city that might be created as a known entity.
A more pressing issue is the ballot measures. There is an undercurrent of public discussion about the two proposed tax increases facing city voters in April that has citizens questioning the city fathers.
They are saying to this reporter that they can see that we need to take care of our streets and parks and we need to alleviate as much of the city’s stormwater woes as we can. But they are unsure what these two tax increases really mean.
Voter turnout might be something to consider here. With all three aldermen running unopposed, some voters may decide to sit this one out.
City fathers need to take voter uncertainty seriously, forge any compromise they need and come up with a single message to voters on how the funds will be spent.
I have to tell you . . . in this reporter’s view what most voters want is a city that works in their favor. They want a city that maintains its streets and parks and city fathers who speak for the needs of the citizens.
Right now, at this time, Pacific leaders have an opportunity and time to craft a message that everyone can understand.
Pacific leaders have the skills to create a plan to address the possible St. Louis County/city merger and possible loss of territory and taxes. They have the skill to determine the best course of action for the Red Cedar.
Both of the tax proposals on the April ballot offer a chance to improve our city in ways that we have no chance if they don’t pass.
City leaders have the ability — if not the will — to communicate one message on how taxes collected from the two tax increases would be spent to make our city a better place.
Agreement among officials could alleviate worry among voters and pave the path for winning at the polls, in the state and in the city.
Pauline Masson can be reached at email@example.com or 314-805-9800.