Will UH senior adults be shortchanged?

If senior adult residents of University Heights want to keep the services they have come to expect from our city, they need to pay attention to what some councilmen are saying. 

On July 26, several members of council proposed to create the new position of economic development director. The position would add up to $80,000 plus benefits to the city's payroll each year, taking a significant bite out of the city's tax revenues.

State law requires UH to have a balanced budget. Adding even a part-time economic development person will require either new taxes or a reduction in current city services. 

As one councilman said, “We can’t do everything, there are always tradeoffs.” One likely tradeoff may be a senior services manager. “If I had to place these two items-work on development issues against a senior service manager,” said the councilman, “I believe I would have to say the development person would have a higher priority.”

What these councilmen have in mind is that the economic development director will find tenants for vacant, privately -owned commercial space in UH. This would increase employment and thereby increase tax revenues. What is not to like about that?

The difficulty with the scheme is that the development director would be doing what realtors in the private market already do—find business tenants for vacant, privately-owned commercial property. Driven by the need to earn commissions to feed their families, they are already diligently at work searching for tenants. Realtors are somewhat hampered, however, by the current economic climate and by the political rejection of some businesses that have desired to open here. It is not likely that a hired economic development director, even a good one, would be able to overcome those obstacles more easily than the army of experienced realtors already on the job.

Should our already high taxes be used to replace private sector real estate agents? Should, as one councilman considered and decided, these tax dollars be at the expense of lowering the priority of our senior adults? The question is an important one.

Of all UH voters registered in 2009, around 25 percent were born in 1950 or earlier. They have raised families, planned block parties, financed the new swimming pool and worked to make this friendly small town of beautiful homes. Many are empty nesters. More important, they have been, and are, the consistent and reliable taxpayers supporting UH by their decision to remain in their homes.

I repeat my marketing proposal to brand and promote our city. We should use our tax dollars for the benefit of the entire city. We can do that without adding to our payroll an expensive executive with vaguely defined duties.

We have many “for sale” signs in our city. We are competing with neighboring cities for future homebuyers. Buyers move here for our housing stock, the quality of the city and our services. We need to market our housing stock to senior adults who are empty nesters in the region. 

Council would be wise not to jeopardize this potential market of homebuyers by reducing or eliminating services important to them. Let us hope they do not attempt to balance the 2011 budget by shortchanging our senior adult residents.

I am interested in hearing directly from you. E-mail me your thoughts and comments to anitakazarian@gmail.com.   

Anita Kazarian is a Marketing Professional and a 29-year resident of University Heights.

Read More on University Heights
Volume 3, Issue 9, Posted 2:49 PM, 08.19.2010