Building a better Waxhaw part two

Editor’s note: Last week we ran the first of a two part editorial from Waxhaw mayor Daune Gardner. Here’s the second part of the piece.
During these tough times, Waxhaw has been banking cash in preparation for upcoming capital projects. During the 2008-2009 budget process, a deliberate decision was made to start saving for those projects that we knew were going to need to be built in the near future. We have been running a surplus in excess of $1M annually for the last several years and currently have over $5M in the bank with no debt. The town is well-positioned to leverage our resources to get the most utility from those funds as we look at building needed public facilities. We have done this with an annual budget in the $5-6M range and with no increase in taxes. In light of this and the general economic challenges facing our working families, I recommended that the town board consider a reduction in the tax rate in the 2011-2012 budget year. While the board chose not to act on my recommendation, they did maintain the tax rate.
Much has happened in the community also. Several new local organizations have been launched, and existing ones have grown and strengthened. The Library Association of Waxhaw got off to a quick start, banking more than $30,000 in their first year while their used book store, the Waxhaw Reading Room, has developed a loyal following of both volunteers and readers. This organization arose during the time that Waxhaw was discussing partnering with the county to build a larger Waxhaw Branch Library. It is time to return to those discussions and find a solution. We love our library in Waxhaw and took the initiative to establish our library back in the 1930s before a county system existed. Today’s challenge is to bring the level of service up to where it will be in line with the growing population of our community. In my next term, I will bring this back to the table and work to bring about a solution that works for both the people Waxhaw and the county system that supports it.
Some may look at the number of town-driven efforts underway that involve boards or committees as “too much government”. However, it is precisely that type of citizen and stakeholder involvement that makes for good governance. For government to truly work well, there are three parties that must be engaged in a real and robust way – the leadership, the staff, and the people. If any one of those three groups is not present in the process of governance, or if one group has lesser or greater power in the process than the others, it creates an imbalance. When there is an imbalance, good might still happen and good decisions and outcomes might still take place, however, good outcomes are more assured when all groups are represented well and fully and are equally powerful.
Some efforts are met with skepticism however. In early 2009, I received a bit of scolding in a letter to the editor admonishing me for “wasting time” on an arts council while there was still work to be done on our ordinances. While I understand the writer’s frustration, it is important to understand that, as an elected official, I must work on many efforts concurrently. At that time I was hearing a lot of interest being expressed regarding a more deliberate approach to our support of the arts in Waxhaw which may have been spurred by the efforts of the Beautification Committee to establish an Arts Policy for the town. I recognized this as an opportunity to capitalize on that interest and draw in volunteers.
On a Saturday morning in January, over 20 people answered the call to explore forming an organization that would provide support for the arts in our community. Robust discussion ensued, leaders were chosen and the Waxhaw Arts Council was born!
People sometimes ask me if I enjoy being the Mayor of Waxhaw. The question inevitably brings a smile to my face because, as one of my fellow mayors says, representing my community as your mayor is “the best job in the world!” I have truly enjoyed working for the people of Waxhaw since my election in 2007.
In that time, much has been accomplished and many other efforts have begun but there is still much work to be done. I believe that I can best contribute to the continuation and completion of those efforts as your mayor. With that in mind, I am asking the people of Waxhaw for the opportunity to continue our work together to build a better Waxhaw!
Daune Gardner

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