Sometimes the most important ingredient in local government is time.
Time for elected officials to talk to the constituents and get a hold on their feelings for what their government is planning for the future of their community. Time for voters who have to deal with the comings and goings of their own lives to pick up the phone and talk to their councilman or councilwoman and let them know how they feel about the direction of the municipality.
It's an ingredient the Big Spring city council has recognized for years, passing its agenda items on first and second reading, usually giving at least two weeks so voters and council members could appreciate the full measure of their actions before the ordinances and resolutions became law.
Unfortunately, that's a tradition that seems to be coming to a close.
Mayor Tommy Duncan announced in December he would be calling for the council to vote on an ordinance calling for an election that would allow funding destined for the Big Spring Economic Development Corporation be used for a multi-million dollar 4B project to revamp existing water, wastewater and waterlines in the city.
True to his word, first reading of that ordinance will come during tonight's council meeting, set for 5:30 p.m. in the City Council Chambers, located at 307 E. Fourth St. However, final reading of that ordinance, which would normally come during the council's regularly scheduled Jan. 24 meeting, is instead slated for Thursday at 5:30 p.m. at the same location.
That leaves less than 48 hours between tonight's meeting and Thursday's final reading for area residents to educate themselves on the matter, approach their district's council member and make their feelings known on the issue.
Duncan has made it clear the final reading of an ordinance or resolution is no time to quibble or debate. However, on an issue as important as this — when millions of dollars and possibly thousands of jobs are at stake for the next several decades — is it really too much to ask for a couple of weeks to research the issues?
We don't imagine the members of the Big Spring EDC board of directors would mind the time. After all, it's their budget we're thinking of cutting from approximately $1.6 million a year to approximately $800,000 a year, possibly crippling our city's chance of drawing industry — and thereby jobs — to the Crossroads area.
We at the Herald think the existing businesses and industries in Big Spring wouldn't mind that time, considering they stand to lose a valuable resource in growing their investment in the coming years.
Time. Whether we measure it in minutes, hours, weeks or years, we often undervalue its effects, especially on our community. After all, it was our inability to measure time and its impact on our water, wastewater and water lines that got us into this mess in the first place.
We didn't dig ourselves into this hole in a day. It's doubtful we'll be able to dig ourselves out of it that quickly, either. Hopefully our elected city officials will figure this out and not try to rush to a solution.