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Now the Real Work Begins

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Posted by: Jeff Rea, SJC Chamber President and CEO on Tuesday, November 10, 2015 at 12:00:00 am

Dear General Election Winners:

We want to congratulate you on your victory in last week’s municipal elections. Your hard work has paid off and the voters of your area have trusted you to best represent their interests and the interests of the community as a whole. It’s a pretty awesome responsibility, but we know you’re up to the task.

So now the real work begins. For new officials, you’ll be inundated with information about the jurisdiction you are representing. You’ll quickly digest that information in preparation for those tough decisions that lie ahead. For you veterans, your victory is affirmation of your previous work and you now are prepared to share your important insight with the “newbies.” Together, you’ll come together, regardless of your political persuasion, to serve the collective interests of the community.

It is our hope that your position will cause you to not only champion your own jurisdiction, but the region as a whole. We hope you recognize that your competition doesn’t come from our neighbors here in the region, but from regions elsewhere in Indiana, throughout the Midwest, across the Country and around the world.

Individually, it’s hard to tell our communities apart as they tend to look like thousands of other communities from all over the country.

Together, the communities in our area fit together like a puzzle, forming a picture of a growing region with a lot to offer potential investors and residents. Please help assemble your important puzzle piece.

We hope you remember the important impression you make about your community. People will make judgments about your jurisdiction based upon your actions and how you conduct your business. We understand you’ll engage in spirited debate and at times, we know you will vigorously disagree with others. In the end though, it’s important that your differences not harden into anger and that you remember those on the other side also have a valuable insight.

Some complicated days are ahead. There is great demand for the services your jurisdiction provides. The expectation exists for high quality and affordable services accompanied by great customer service. Shrinking revenues and swelling costs will challenge your ability to meet those demands. In fact, tough decisions await as to which of those services you will continue to be able to provide and which will fall victim to a budget cut.

The end of this coming term will mean the full implementation of property tax caps, taking millions of additional property tax dollars away from your annual budgets. Communities across the State have already faced a similar challenge and adjusted, with only Lake County and St. Joseph County delayed. The General Assembly gave those two counties ten additional years to brace for the impact, so it’s unrealistic to think any additional extensions will be possible.

New revenue sources won’t be popular. The general consensus is that we pay a lot in taxes already, and the property tax cap will only bring us level with every other community in Indiana. Some different thinking will be required. A close look at our local government system that was largely crafted in the 1800’s and remains relatively unchanged will be essential. Though minor cuts have occurred, they’ve only scratched the surface. Your leadership will be key here.

The business community looks forward to being your partner and stands ready to work closely with you in growing our community. Call upon us if we can be of assistance. Again, congratulations on your victory!

The Business Community

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