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October 22, 1996

If it accomplishes nothing else, the November 5 general election in Perry may get more people out to vote than President Clinton and Senator Dole together could have attracted. It seems we don't care who we send to the White House and Congress, but just watch it when a local sales tax question is on the ballot.

The Perry Improvement Program obviously has stirred a lot of heated debate in our normally serene little community. The tone of some of the letters to the editor in this newspaper has been downright caustic. Passionate statements have been made, some of them implying dark dealings by local officials. Others have stepped up to defend the proposal as well as those who laid it before us.

What's a person supposed to believe?

First of all, I would ask that everybody calm down. I would also say that personalities on either side should have nothing to do with the argument. I will personally guarantee you that those who conceived the Perry Improvement Program and those who are supporting it are not crooks and they do not stand to gain a red cent if voters approve the package. Some of the questions being raised about the program are not based on good information. Check out the facts before making up your mind.

Likewise, those who oppose the program also are honest citizens who have serious doubts about some aspects of the three improvement areas affected by the proposed sales tax increase.

Most of the officials submitting this Improvement Program were elected or chosen by us to oversee the operation of this municipality. They do that to the best of their ability, considering the limited resources at their disposal in this small town. They, like us, know we have major problems and insufficient money to solve them. They are looking for answers because that's what they are supposed to do. And they take seriously the responsibility we placed upon them to keep this city functioning and serving our needs. They know our streets are bad and getting worse because they have to drive them every day just like you and I. They know our water supply is precarious at best, and it behooves all of us to find an answer to that riddle. Medical care is basic for every man, woman and child, but sometimes we don't appreciate what we have, or do not have, until an emergency pops up in our own family. They are asking us to bring our local sales tax level up to 8.5 percent, which is where it is in virtually every town of any size around us.

The ultimate solution to this dilemma, whatever that proves to be, is going to cost money. If we put off action now, it will cost more down the line. Inflation guarantees that. And, the problems are not going to just disappear. They will get worse.

For some time now we have been united in a progressive effort to make this a better community. Perry Main Street, the Perry Development Coalition, the Perry Chamber of Commerce, the city council and many others have been cooperating as never before to improve our business district, to clean up the alleys and sidewalks downtown as well as in the residential areas. The Perry Improvement Program is a natural extension of that effort. Let's keep it moving forward.

Responsible home owners are faced with similar problems all the time. You know what happens when you postpone putting on a new roof or painting the trim. It does no good to get mad at your house just because it needs attention.

How do you choose a priority among three problems like those staring us in the face? The answer is, you can't. They're equally important. That's why all three are included in the Perry Improvement Program being submitted to voters on November 5. Every taxpaying voter in this city should attend the city council's special forum Thursday night starting at 7 p.m. in the Perry high school auditorium. There we can ask questions and get straight answers.

If we are satisfied with the situation as it exists, we'll reject the package. If we want it fixed, we'll approve it. I believe the best thing we can do is vote yes for progress and get on with the program.