By Mike Whittlesey

With a community center filled to capacity at the January 13 City Council meeting, it was clear the residents of La Porte City had something on their mind. As talk in the community focused on the topic of public safety, the question wasn’t how much money can we save by making cuts to the police department budget. The real question was how long are we willing to wait for law enforcement to arrive when we need them? The answer from residents who spoke at the meeting was clear. There isn’t a price that can be put on the safety of La Porte City’s citizens.

That being said, the issues related to our city’s infrastructure are not going away. Like other cities our size, the challenges to improve the surface of our roadways remain. Beneath some of those roads are aging sewers and water lines that, when they fail, will result in costly repairs. The sooner we develop a plan to address these needs, the better.

The sad reality in the world of government is that there is never enough money to do everything everyone wants. Ten years ago, the prevailing opinion of the community was focused on a new Family Aquatic Center. Since that time, the subsequent bonds issued for the project have reduced, to a degree, resources that could have been used elsewhere. Meanwhile, the pool has served as attraction that brings people to our community, an amenity that continues to enhance our home town. City government, unfortunately, is a series of trade-offs. Ultimately, the choices we make rely upon the priorities we set.

The events, as they have played out in La Porte City the past several weeks, illustrate how well local government can work when citizens are active participants in the process. While we elect representatives to carry out our wishes, sometimes our involvement ends on Election Day. Worse yet, sometimes our input isn’t even registered on Election Day.

Kudos to those who took the time to attend last week’s City Council meeting and share their hopes and concerns with our elected officials. It is a strong indicator of the vitality that exists in La Porte City today. And it’s a source of strength that will be needed to address the challenges we will face in the future.