Blue Earth chooses sound direction: streets

The city of Blue Earth, we believe, is on to something. The City Council this week discussed using the proceeds of a new city sales tax to accelerate the number of street reconstruction projects. The city may use $1 million for each of the next five years to improve infrastructure.

Voters approved the half-cent sales tax and state lawmakers have given the city the go-ahead to enact it. But the state wants Blue Earth to point to where the money will be used before it can start collecting. The city’s choice of streets is wise.

We believe there are some basics that cities should provide if they are going to tax their residents. Things like quality streets, utilities, firefighting, law enforcement and plowing snow leap to mind. If citizens have to suffer with poor services in any of these areas, a city is not doing its job properly.

While cities can and do offer other amenities and services — parks, pools, libraries, etc. — these adds-ons should not come at the expense of the basics. And it is regrettable if cities are dedicating tax dollars to bells and whistles if their streets and infrastructure are crumbling.

Blue Earth is not planning or contemplating anything outrageous. Instead it has chosen to focus on what it should. Kudos to the city officials involved.