There’s no nice way to spin it: The results of our city’s bad decisions for the past decade are catching up with us.
In addition to having high debt and property taxes, our sales tax revenues continue to decline, we are exporting more than $727 million per year in U.S. Department of Energy payroll (1), and we have a comparatively stagnant population growth. Even with all the new restaurants opening, these projects won’t fully replace the revenue we’ve lost from the countless businesses that have closed up shop or left town for greener pastures.
Continuing down this path is not an option. Thankfully, our city manager understands this and wants to strategize a more competitive position for Oak Ridge. He is proposing that we change our approach to economic development (2) by finding other uses for the $1-2 million we’ve been spending annually on nearly 20 different external organizations like the Oak Ridge Chamber of Commerce.