Our View: Our goals for the city in the new year

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It’s almost a new year in Auburn and its city council has selected its mayor for the coming year.
Current Mayor Kevin Hanley was given another term and we know he has goals for the city “Auburn mayor’s message for 2013,” Another View, Dec. 21).
The following are some of our goals for the city as it moves into 2013.
Don’t waste more time putting off regional sewer plan
So far Auburn’s representatives have done a good job being advocates for residents and have continually stressed they want to protect ratepayers’ pocketbooks. At its recent meeting, the council extended the time frame for its regional wastewater committee another six months. Councilman Bill Kirby and Councilwoman Bridget Powers will continue to work with the county and city of Lincoln to find common ground. It’s been over a decade and it’s frustrating that the three entities are still stuck on the same page of no one knows the true cost, who will govern the project and how it will be done.
Our goal for the committee and city by the end of 2013 is to make a final decision to move forward or abandon the project.
Keep collaborative tone with talks
There is a proposal to make negotiations between the city and its unions more transparent and public. This idea has its merits and is appealing. Being open with how public money is spent is a worthy pursuit.
However, it will need to be vetted to make sure publicizing terms of ongoing negotiations does not violate any laws, such as the Brown Act, before the city approves something that could cost them more legal fees down the line.
Ultimately, the city and its labor groups need to keep the spirit of working together and collaboratively a priority. The breakdown in negotiations between the city and the Auburn Police Officers Association has resulted in a costly lawsuit that is still waiting for an outcome.
Make a unified business plan
It’s time to end the division among Auburn’s business community. Currently, businesses in Old Town and Downtown pay a mandatory assessment fee to the business improvement district it is in. The city of Auburn contracts with the Old Town and Downtown business associations to spend the money on behalf of their districts.
However, between the Old Town Business Association, Downtown Business Association and the member-funded Chamber of Commerce, there is little cohesion among these merchants.
The city and its merchants would be better served to take the fee collected and put it in the hands of a unified Auburn Business Association.
The association could be governed by a committee with representatives from each business district, including business owners along the Highway 49 corridor. This would then force those involved to talk to each other and come up with ways to promote Auburn as a whole rather than their separate areas.
For example, due to weather, the Festival of Lights parade was moved to the same date as the Old Town Country Christmas. What would happen if this was planned next year?
Old Town Country Christmas could start later toward the tail end of the parade and draw the 10,000 to 20,000 people who attended the parade to the festivities in Old Town, especially if you provide a shuttle from the fairgrounds parking lot.
How about Cruise Nite, a regular summer staple in Downtown Auburn, pairing up with Old Town Auburn? Could there be live music in Old Town starting toward the tail end of Cruise Nite?
Collaborations such as these can give those in and out of town even more of a reason to come to Auburn for the day or evening. And isn’t that what we want for our business community?
Overall Auburn has fared well in 2012 and has weathered tough economic times in the years before. There is a lot for dedicated city staff, elected leaders, business owners, nonprofit advocates and residents to be proud of and have confidence that the coming year will be a positive one.