We recommend Bruce Vaughan's op-ed piece in The Morning News to all community leaders and concerned citizens in Northwest Arkansas. Recalling a conversation with an economics professor, he acknowledges that declining city revenues usually demand reduced spending. "Unfortunately," he argues, "most cities cut such things as art centers, museums, libraries and even schools. Those are the very things that attract new retail stores and manufacturing firms. It is a Catch 22 situation. On the surface it appears that anything to do with the arts, culture and education is not absolutely essential. Yet, cutting the budget of any of these facilities is a sure guarantee of less revenue in the future."
"How do you finance the growing needs of the community with shrinking tax revenue? I will admit that I do not have an answer," says Vaughan. "I do have faith in the city council to work through this difficult time. I believe the council members have the good of the city in mind when they cast a vote. As might be expected, some of the council members have different ideas of what is good for the city. They have a demanding and often thankless job." He could be talking about Fayetteville, which recently went through a budget-balancing act, or any city facing the future.
With regard to Springdale, which is Vaughan's concern, he says, "It is imperative that we, as a city, do not let new demands cut our funds for education. Our city schools, the Shiloh Museum, arts center and library must be supported. These four educational services are all that stands between Springdale, the city, becoming Springdale, a bedroom community. I sincerely hope that the needs of our city can be met through the cooperation of every department by trimming their budget in places where it will do the least harm."
Mayor Sprouse and the Springdale City Council should take that advice to heart. Same goes for Mayor Jordan and the Fayetteville City Council as they seek to cut waste in order to protect funding for the heart and soul programs of our community and revive its reputation as the fabulous and funky Athens of the Ozarks.