I ran for Salem City Council in 2018, stating consistently that leadership lacked foresight and the will to make short-term sacrifices in favor of long-term stability. I was tentative about my assertions then because I lacked the context to draw hard conclusions. Monday night’s meeting on the Simms Farm development has proved me correct. The City of Salem’s elected officials lack foresight.
Unlike the elected council, the citizens of Salem came prepared. Some quoted the strategic plan; others quoted city codes; some brought, for the greatest effect, their professional knowledge applied to the proposed plan. Every citizen speaking was in agreement with a no vote Monday night.
What happened instead was a continuation of the vote to the Monday before Thanksgiving.
Our city works on a five year capital improvement plan currently and the amount of improvements on that list outweigh our ability to finance them. When I argued against a tax increase in June, I asked Council to amend their planning period from five years to ten and to improve their planning methods to show better foresight.
None of this would be at issue if it were not for Monday’s meeting. The continuation was justified in order to explore options to take care of capital spending needs on roads, storm water drains and plumbing infrastructure surrounding the proposed Simms Farm development. While that was the justification provided for a continuation, this will not yield any results. The City of Salem has no ability to fund significant changes and they feel as if the only path toward a secure financial future is by expanding our tax base by accepting this proposal.
This council has been asked repeatedly to amend their ways in order to gain financial standing that will allow for healthy investment, yet on Monday night a little after 11 p.m., they claimed ignorance in order to save face on a risky vote they knew would be poorly received. This extension should provide leadership the time to recognize our city has not prepared sufficiently to develop this land yet because they lacked the foresight to plan appropriately.