Big challenges ahead nationally and locally in 2009

Whether it is inside City Hall or on the legislative floors of Jefferson City, critical decisions will be made in 2009.
The city of Richmond continues to face a budget deficit and sales tax revenues that are on the decline. They’re not alone either. Ray County and many of the smaller communities throughout the county face similar problems.
Retirees have seen their nest eggs cut in half while local workers face layoffs and buyouts from their manufacturing and skilled labor positions.
The list of problems for Richmond is growing as well. A South Wastewater Plant and stormwater issues are just two. City Administrator Rick Childers and the City Council have begun to take some considerable steps towards upgrading and fixing the issues, but cannot keep up in some instances.
However, millions of dollars in relief could be on its way to Richmond in the form of an economic stimulus plan by the Obama Transition Team that would be focused on public works and transportation projects.
An April election is not far off that will see six out of eight city council seats contested. Early filing indicates that most seats will be contested unlike last year when only one seat had two people looking to fill the vacancy.
In Jefferson City and Richmond, decision makers will have to come up with some solutions to the state and the county’s 911 issues. One bill that has already been filed could lead to a surcharge on cell phones for 911.
The general assembley will also have to wrestle with health care, a shrinking job manufacturing base and a projected $340 million revenue shortfall.
2009 is starting out on a positive note locally with Richmond native and Miss Missouri Lacey Fitzgerald’s reality TV debut tonight on TLC.
The TV show will run on Friday nights at 9 p.m. until the Miss America Pageant on Jan. 24, from Las Vegas, Nev.
Revitalizing downtown complete and some local professionals are also doing some revitalization of the buildings downtown into vibrant business buildings.
Richard Bidding is rehabbing the old bank building on the square, while Ray County Assistant Prosecuting Attorney Mark Goodwin rehabs some new office buildings on the square’s south side.
City Councilman Tom Williams hopes to relocate Hometown Pizza on the square’s north side slot that used to be occupied by the Old Town Restaurant and Bar.`

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