Create a more prudent path for royaltiesPublished 12:01am Thursday, February 21, 2013
The City of Vidalia made another round of employee cuts in recent days, the second such budget slash in the last six months.
The cuts are necessary, city aldermen said, because of the one-two punch the Mississippi River delivered to Vidalia over the last two years.
The first punch came battling the record 2011 flood. The second occurred in 2012 when too much water became too little. Drought conditions dried up the river taking with it the ability of the Sidney A. Murray Jr. Hydroelectric Station to produce electricity — and cash for Vidalia.
Both situations are unfortunate, difficult-to-predict weather phenomenon.
The greater problem, however, and the one that led to the financial woes we’re now seeing, began much earlier than the last two years.
Vidalia has lived for too long on funds from the hydroelectric plant to fund routine city operations.
Given the unpredictable nature of the river — and the river’s impact on the hydroelectric plant, clearly living off the plant for routine operations means running the risk of dying fiscally, at least, when the river runs dry, too.
As Vidalia leaders go through the unpleasant business of right-sizing the city, they would be wise to rethink their use of and dependence upon the hydroelectric plant royalties.
The money it creates is fabulous when it comes. But using the hydro money for special projects and infrastructure improvements rather than for routine operations, would be a much wiser, much more prudent path than the bloated operational spending that’s now catching up with the city.
We hope the lesson is taken to heart and put into practice.