To Mayor Tim Solomon:
Congratulations on your re-election, mayor. Over the past four years, you have overseen some good changes to the city of Havre. We hope you will continue to do that.
It’s a great honor to be elected mayor of this great city, but it is also a tremendous responsibility. You will have lots of problems to solve and not much money to solve them with. As you move forward, though, you will have the people of Havre behind you.
We know that the one thing that will not be in short supply for you in coming weeks is unsolicited advice. Excuse us, but let us join in, tossing out some ideas:
• Speed up the annexation process. Lots of areas outside the city limits are, for all practical purposes, part of the city — except on tax day. We feel for businesses that will have to pay more taxes, and we are genuinely sorry that Hill County will lose tax revenues, but many of the problems the city faces can only be solved with extra money. If the city falls behind, Hill County as a whole will suffer. Adding on to the city will enhance the possibility of new development.
• Celebrate Havre. It’s a great place with great people. On “Go The Extra Mile Day,” honor some people in Havre who go the extra mile at their churches, civic groups, service clubs, Scout troops, schools, 4-H clubs and community groups. A couple of years ago, you honored Bonnie Bennett for her great work. There are lots more people we can be proud of. Point out and honor those who should be role models to the rest of us.
• Lead the community discussion on the future of Havre’s government. Next year, voters will decide whether to study a new form of government. Is our existing system OK for the 21st century? Should we have a city manager? Are there too many or too few council members?
• You’ve done a great job of appointing some highly qualified people to city jobs. Please keep that up. The people you appoint won’t be highly paid, and they won’t be in it for the glory, but they will have the special honor of serving the people in this special corner of the world.
• Lots of Montana communities have benefitted by attracting industries that manufacture equipment for the Bakken oil boom. So far, Havre hasn’t. Wouldn’t it be great if the area could lure such industry to the area? We are too far away to get a direct benefit from oil exploration, but not too far away to provide services to those living in the Bakken. We can expand opportunities for local people without ruining the quality of life Havre has to offer.
• Be the squeaky wheel. The Port of Wild Horse should be open 24 hours a day for the sake of commuters who want to travel back and forth and for the sake of Havre’s economy. Lots of Canadians want to shop here, their government and our government have made it hard for them to get in and out of the United States. You’ve been banging your head against the wall to change that, to no avail. Maybe it’s time to bang their heads against the wall.
There are these ideas and lots more.
Sometimes over the next four years, this column will be supporting you, and sometimes we will be on the opposite side of the fence. But we know that when spats occur it is because we see different solutions to the problems facing this great city.
Best of luck in moving us ahead, Mr. Mayor.