Investing in infrastructure can help city prepare for future, business leader says


Oct. 12, 2010 at 5:12 a.m.

Victoria's business climate would be very different without the infrastructure the city boasts, Dale Fowler, president of the Victoria Economic Development Corp., said.

"We couldn't get Caterpillar and other companies out here in the future if we weren't ready for them," he said.

Representatives from the business community and local government discussed the importance of investing in infrastructure at Tuesday's Victoria Partnership meeting.

Fowler referred to a Newsweek article by Ezra Klein, which said now is the time to invest in such projects. Construction materials, labor and the cost of borrowing money are all reasons to look into infrastructure investments, Klein said in the article.

With the money Victoria has put in the downtown project, the city is already investing in its future, City Councilman Paul Polasek said. The same applies to the new sewer plant coming to town.

"It's not a very glamorous project, but it needed to be done," Polasek said.

This has been an interesting year as far as city projects go, Mayor Will Armstrong said. Nearly every one has come in below the engineers' estimates.

Recent council votes for the city budget and an incoming sewer plant resulted in four-three split votes, he added, explaining that hits a nerve for him. There's no reason for a split vote on something that would benefit Victoria.

Now is the time to take advantage of affordable rates and reinvent the city, he said, rather than put projects off and later fund them through tax increases.

"We cannot afford to keep nickel and diming the the tax rate," Armstrong said.

People often criticize officials for their decisions but don't have suggestions themselves for improvements, County Commissioner Gary Burns said.

Upgrades and demolitions at the Victoria Regional Airport draw comments, he said, adding that some people would rather put up fences and avoid problem areas than meet them head on.

"They don't have answers," he said, "but they criticize when we try to invest in their future."



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