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Guest column/Tough decisions don’t mean cut all spending

October 16, 2011
By JOHN J. MASCIO , The Herald-Star

I would like to comment on the letter in the Oct. 9 edition regarding Steubenville finances and what could be cut ("City should explore options.") I agree with some of what the writer said but would like to point out some misstatements and probably misconceptions held by many.

The downtown beautification projects are paid for by the downtown merchants, not the city. The water in the fountain at Historic Fort Steuben is provided by the city, but the cost, if any, is minimal. Besides, it is one of the few attractive sights downtown. The Washington Street project was part of the Obama Stimulus package and did not cost the city anything. As for tearing down dilapidated houses, that money comes from grants the city has been able to receive. Unfortunately, the owners of those buildings are not always able to be found or are almost indigent, which means that the cost cannot always be passed on to them.

The impression I got from the letter was that the city should do no maintenance and let the infrastructure completely deteriorate. I believe that regardless of finances, certain things should be undertaken to try to enhance the appearance of the city so as to make it inviting to businesses looking to possibly locate here. I think the city should have paved one or two fewer streets in the spring and used the saved money to seal cracks in those streets recently repaved, thus prolonging the life of them and reducing the potholes that will inevitably develop. The city engineer, in an article in this paper before the special election, stated it was the most economical way to maintain streets. I have yet to hear one reason from anyone associated with the city, and I have asked, as to why this is not being done. I think, even though money is tight, that it would be more economical in the long run to do maintenance work as needed rather than allow complete deterioration and have to completely redo a street.

Sunset Boulevard, for example, was primarily a state project. When does anyone think it will get repaved by the state? In the meantime, it needs to be maintained.

Some should be spent to put in a decent lawn in front and along the side of the new City Building. It is nothing but weeds and, in my opinion, conveys a message that the appearance and image of the city mean nothing, when in actuality, it means everything. Jefferson County has a nice looking lawn and shrubbery in front of the courthouse, the Fort has a nicely maintained lawn and then we have the city's. I think, that after constructing that new building to let the lawn around it be in the condition it is, is disgraceful. The downtown looks bad enough with all the empty buildings without the city contributing to it. Sometimes you need to spend money in the short run to save it over the long haul, and sometimes you need to spend it as an enticement to others to come to your city.

I agree that difficult decisions need to be made, but that does not mean cutting all spending.

(Mascio, a resident of Steubenville, is the city's former law director.)

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