1. a group of people living in the same place or having a particular characteristic in common.
2. a feeling of fellowship with others, as a result of sharing common attitudes, interests, and goals.
At their most basic level, each of the following topics should be at the heart of good government. After all, these aren’t to the benefit of a select group of individuals, instead they support the very body of a healthy community, our Waynesboro community.
This isn’t to say that this is a comprehensive list of all the things that we must do to prepare Waynesboro for its next generation of business leaders, entrepreneurs, teachers, police officers, firefighters, students, seniors and residents…that list needs to be decided together. But here’s something to help us get started:
Pay attention to the local news and it won’t take long to realize that Waynesboro has increasingly become a community of missed opportunities. A missed opportunity means smaller wages for you and your neighbor, less money invested in our schools, higher fees and real estate taxes, and a weaker community. We can do better, we must do better, failure is not an option.
Government can not create jobs, but what it must do, is create the kind of policy and regulatory environment necessary to attract new businesses and retain those that already call Waynesboro home. So what does success look like? It looks a lot like hard work, and that hard work will begin with an aggressive economic development strategy targeted and marketed at our strengths. We will measure our success by the timetable we establish, and by the number of new jobs and tax revenue streams created by our efforts. We have immeasurable potential, but only if we Believe in Waynesboro.
As fast as the sun rises, and the sun sets, our world is changing and has become more connected and complex than it was just a decade ago. We’ve got many important decisions to make in Waynesboro, specifically understanding what the right-size investments are that will help make our eventual Graduates, the most competitive they can be. After all, their success…is our success.
That said, aren’t you tired of people just talking about doing something to improve education in Waynesboro? Isn’t it about time we plan our work, and work our plan, and actually change the way we fund education in Waynesboro from the top/down? Did you know that the school budget represents the #1 line item that we all fund when it comes time to pay our property taxes, and yet there’s little discussion about it in public circles? It’s time to communicate and collaborate with our elected School Board leaders, make the important decisions we need to make together, get moving, take action, measure our success…failure is not an option. Our kids and grandkids are counting on us to Believe in Waynesboro.
Waynesboro is fortunate to have world-class police officers, firefighters and emergency responders. They’re there when we need them, and in return, we need to make sure that we’re there for them. Changing economic, morale and staffing issues can create conditions where Waynesboro tax payers train new recruits only to have them resign once we’ve financed their training. Would you operate your business that way? We can’t either. We must continue to ensure that the total compensation we offer our first responders is fair and competitive.
Infrastructure…the ground beneath us
Did you know that of the $79.5 million of debt the City of Waynesboro owes, nearly 60% (or $46 million) of it is to cover long overdue upgrades to our water and sewer system? Why? The reason might sound familiar when you consider other civic investments needed in our City. We’ve lacked vision and foresight for a very, very long time in Waynesboro. The consequence of not saving for civic needs…has been more debt. More debt, more fees. It’s time to change the way we think about planning for, and financing civic investments, from our buildings to our streets…to the ground beneath us.
Quality of Life
Our success is not, nor should it be, dependent upon the failure of another. In other words, we shouldn’t have to give up something we love about our City, just to satisfy something else we ought to get done. There are lots of good reasons to live in Waynesboro. My family and I discovered that over a decade ago, and are reminded of it with each new sunrise. From the greenway, to our riverside parks, housing affordability, great educators, and the kindness of strangers…there are many reasons we call Waynesboro home. What are the things you love about Waynesboro? Why are they important to you? How should we protect it/them for the generation that follows? These are all the sort of questions and responses we must remind ourselves of as we set the course of action on improving our combined condition. We can do this, if we choose to Believe in Waynesboro.