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Cutting city services will hurt recent gains

It's not just the weather forecast that is looking brighter these days in Forest Grove. Take a look at the other news sprinkled throughout this week's News-Times.

On Monday, the Forest Grove Chamber of Commerce announced that it had hired Teri Koerner as its new executive director. Koerner's record at expanding the membership of a similar chamber group in Texas is good news for the organization. And her role in helping Ashland develop its tourism trade will be a big help as Forest Grove decides whether it wants to become a destination for visitors. (Koerner will replace Lois Hornberger, who was hired away by Pacific University to bring more conferences and other events to the Forest Grove campus.)

On Tuesday, Mayor Richard Kidd joined Pacific President Phil Creighton manning a shovel at the ceremonial groundbreaking for the redevelopment of the city's Lincoln Park. Over the next year, the private university will spend millions of dollars building top-tier athletics facilities that will be available to both students and the public.

And, just down the street, contractors are busy readying a building on Pacific Avenue for Barnes and Noble, one of the nation's top retailers, to open a bookstore, which is being moved from its current location on Pacific's campus. The store will not only be a resource for local bibliophiles, but also will send a message to visitors heading downtown that Forest Grove is open and ready for business.

These developments are signs the city is moving forward, working creatively to create partnerships that will provide opportunities for everyone.

There is, however, a dark cloud looming on the horizon.

Last fall, voters in Forest Grove faced a bevy of levies and responded by rejecting them all, including bond measures for public school improvements and an extension of an existing public safety levy.

Last week, the Forest Grove City Council voted to put the city levy back on the May 15 ballot. It's a modest request that would continue the existing tax stream and boost it slightly to cover costs associated with growth (the new bill would cost the typical homeowner an extra $6 per month). While the loss of public funds would be felt most at the cop shop and the fire station, the reality is that the cuts would ripple across the city, from reduced hours at the public pool to the loss of library staff.

And that would be a step in the wrong direction.