AN OPEN LETTER TO CITIZENS OF THE TOWN OF JONESBORO
My fellow Citizens:
The last several months have presented the Town of Jonesboro with some extraordinary challenges. Our town, along with others across the nation, has felt the deadening sting of COVID 19, budget shortfalls, and more recently weather conditions of unparalleled proportions. We have faced one crisis after another. Consequently, we have had to adjust our sails by tightening spending, cutting back on overtime, deferring spending wherever possible, instituting cost saving measures and taking action to ensure that we maintain a balanced budget.
We have implemented these measures because we have no slush fund and no change to spare. Due to COVID 19 and having to comply with federal guidelines we have had to conduct monthly council meetings via conference calls and have limited business visits to city hall by appointment only. These policies and procedures were designed to prevent the spread of the virus at city hall and ultimately to protect staff and citizens of Jonesboro.
When it comes to the town’s budget, we are constantly having to juggle funds in order to provide much needed services provided by the city, fire, and police departments, community services and to comply with the state auditor’s fiscal requirements. The recent calamity concerning water leaks and outages throughout the town were of historical proportion, a situation that we cannot recall in recent history.
Throughout every sector of the town, we experienced infrastructure blow outs. As mayor, I want to publicly thank Mr. Wortham and the entire crew from the street, water, and sewer departments who went above and beyond the call of duty, working day and night to repair broken water mains in sub-human weather conditions to restore water and sewer services to the town’ citizens.
The most recent incident which caused the collapse of our infrastructure has once again brought front and center an age-old problem that has plagued the town and citizens for much too long and now must inevitably be addressed. Citizens, we have to consider a new solution to an old problem, that of fixing an antiquated, outdated infrastructure. It is almost impossible to determine the amount of loss revenue from these blowouts that are commonplace.
Unfortunately, the town of Jonesboro is experiencing rising demands amidst dwindling resources and is strapped for revenue. The town of Jonesboro’s administration simply cannot make bricks without straw. What was possible in the past is clearly no longer possible now and will certainly not be possible or desirable in the future. The problems associated with our failing infrastructure can be summed up as one of neglect that has been occurring and lingering for decades.
o fix the problem will require additional revenues. The town has come to a moment that is like the biblical warning of putting new wine in old vats. The town has patched as best as it can, an old infrastructure system that is worn out, overtaxed, and has basically lost its utility. And now we must prepare for global warming and climate change which is producing unprecedented and extreme weather conditions with more hurricanes, tornadoes, freezing weather and other unusual weather phenomena on the horizon.
I want to commend the council for working with and committing to join me in addressing and establishing new policies that will allow us to tackle head on some of these problems. Together, as citizens, we must develop creative alternatives that will allow the town to move forward in an effort to improve the quality of life for all of its citizens. We must explore new endeavors, seek out new and effective ways to apply the power of the mind, and employ the spirit of disciplined inquiry to address many of the issues that lie before us and have kept us bound and hostage for much too long.
I believe if we do so with sustained attention, sincere effort, and a unified approach, we can unravel the means and ends to moving our town forward. And as we move together, we do so with no illusion that we will produce all of the answers to which we seek definitive responses, but it is my hope and prayer that we will come forth with a plan of action and a better understanding than we now have of our dilemma and with an appropriate response to guide us in overcoming a major problem facing the town. The time is fitting, reality and the moment of truth is upon us, we must together attack these crucial and important problems if we are to become a “shinning city” upon on a hill.
Let me close on a critical and instructive note, and I do so with a firmness and fullness of heart and soul, if we the people of the Town of Jonesboro are true believers in the cause to make our little town all that it can and should be, if we are faithful to the mission of one for all and all for one, and if we are diligent in the pursuit of the mission, our dreams and hopes and the promise of the “Shinning City on a Hill” can be fulfilled.
Leslie C. Thompson