I have been a resident of Clinton for 62 years – a retired librarian serving both Clinton and Anderson County schools – and have many fond memories of the Clinton that was: The little fire hall and old but shipshape fire engine across from Dr. Hall’s office behind Market St., the Wednesdays I spent at Green McAdoo as the school’s one-day-a-week librarian, and being co-chair of Clinton’s 1987 Tennessee Homecoming committee.
Today, Clinton is again trying to imagine a path to recreate the vigor we once had. In the early 2000s we tried, but the plan didn’t resonate and failure to prudently manage finances sapped opportunity.
Some criticize Mayor Scott Burton and City Council for losing the momentum of the 2000s. But City records show how serious that financial situation was: a $6 million balance in “other governmental funds” had to be liquidated for urgent debt service, loan balances refinanced, and all of us encumbered by high annual payments.
So, in fact, the Mayor and Council didn’t lose momentum but instead were shackled by predecessors’ financial miscalculations and stillborn plans.
Since then they’ve made progress. For the last eight years, records show maintenance of workable balances and I’m told the City is on track to be debt free. Mayor Burton and Council have done this with low taxes yet while maintaining award-winning schools, responsive police, fire, and public works services, managing to keep our first responders equipped with modern gear, and then even investing in little things like the splash pad and an all-access playground at South Clinton Elementary.
In fact, only recently has leadership had financial headroom to begin reinvigorating Clinton. As first steps, they replaced the worst of decaying and almost 100 year-old waterworks infrastructure at Broad Street and are now planning the next and larger portions at Main. Further, to encourage private investment, they tasked Planning Commission to reconsider antiquated and overly restrictive zoning regulations in the central business district.
All this has taken steadfast commitment to “keeping the main thing, the main thing” led strongly from the start by Mayor Burton.
I urge voters and residents of Clinton to consider things carefully, to not change horses in midstream.
As we’ve all learned since childhood, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it!”
Re-elect Scott Burton Mayor.