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‘Better than I found it’ — mayor proud Hyde Park is now debt-free

October 17th, 2015 Posted in Opinion

By Mekenna Malan

HYDE PARK — The mayor of Hyde Park is proud of his city for many reasons: its tight-knit rural community, the quality of life for its residents, and now, its status as a 100 percent debt-free municipality.

cfiles55277“For the last six years, our goal has been to pay off our city debts,” said Mayor Bryan Cox. “This week we are debt-free after paying off $2,944,000. That, to me, is a great thing.

“I think cities should save money for their citizens instead of bonding,” he said. “We have control of our money now. We don’t have to wait for banks. I am very excited.”

When he was elected in 2010, Cox said, Hyde Park owed money for a sewer system, city building and two water tanks, among other things. Many of these items were built or installed in the 1990s.

“To some cities, that may not seem like much, but I had to cut 24 percent out of our budget, down to $1,450,000,” he said. “To pay off an amount two times the size of our budget was big for us.”

Cox and city recorder Donja Wright say every Hyde Park citizen helped reach this goal by consciously spending less for the last six years.

“It was a hard time being elected mayor after the 2008 economic downturn,” Cox said. “I made a goal to pay off our debts. I didn’t lay off employees; I cut our budget.

“It’s all about curbing the appetite of government. It’s about living within your means and making do without certain things. It’s about being smarter spenders and investors,” Cox said. “You don’t hear that in large-scale government very often.”

Wright applauds the mayor. “Bryan has done a great job announcing the goal in city newsletters and getting everyone involved,” Wright said. “We’ve all been a part of climbing out of it. When they had to cut back, that’s when everyone jumped in. Everyone has truly been a part of this.”

Although Hyde Park may have to sell bonds again to raise money for projects in the future, Wright said, Cox hopes to keep the city debt-free for as long as possible, saving toward future projects and allowing the city to remain independent with its money.

“I worry people will say, ‘We’re out of debt, so cut our taxes,’” Cox said. “I don’t feel that is the right mindset. Let us save to put down new infrastructure. Let us be smart and save for the next sewer system and the next water tank.”

In addition to funding a new water tank, Cox said city money will immediately go toward funding a new city park.

Cox said he is grateful for the dedication of Hyde Park residents and other city personnel for doing their part to scale the mountain that seemed, at times, almost insurmountable.

“It’s a happy thing for me,” Cox said. “I mean, you say you want to leave the city better than you found it, and I believe we’ve done something very exciting here.”


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