Be careful about burning bridges with a lack of tact

By Matt Nicholson

“If you had a little tact, you would be a force to be reckoned with.”

Before I get to this quote, let me share some of my week.

With legwork that stretches back to 2020, the fire station headquarters project has completed the paperwork needed to put shovels in the ground. This project will replace the 54-year-old Station 2 and relocate headquarters from Station 1. It will better place Station 2 to serve the west end of town and help us maintain our ISO rating for many years to come.

Keep an eye out for a groundbreaking ceremony in the coming month. Another thank you to Chief Brad Lucas for his dedication to our community and hard work on this project.

The city council recently approved the 2022 budget. Every year, the budget process takes around five months to go from the first requests to the final version delivered to the council.

This year, we got ever closer to some of my budgetary goals for our community, and those are having 180 days of cash on hand and having a balanced budget. I have to admit the 180-day goal was started with the previous administration. At our lowest point, we dropped to single-digit days on hand. The original projection to get back to 180 was around the 2034 area.

Each year, we get closer, and with another solid budget cycle, we should reach that goal around a decade ahead of schedule. While this isn’t glamorous or exciting to most citizens, it is something I believe will leave us in a better place when my time serving as mayor is done.

Reaching this goal also will allow us to start funding our capital needs easier and allow us not to borrow and pay back from the sewer funds that generate monthly cash flow instead of the twice a year that tax revenues come in. While I could spend an entire column about financials, I will move on before anyone falls asleep.

Almost every project has a snag along the way, especially when they are brand-new items that Seymour has never done before. Sometimes, though, a project seems to get all of the snags, and pickleball courts is that project for us.

From doing a five-year master plan that included feedback on where to place the courts on the front end to material delays on the tail end, this project has taken considerably longer than even my add-time-to-the-completion-date heart has wanted. I can report that by the time you read this, the final contractor involved has been on location for several days already and should be close to completion. We will still have a few small items to complete, like benches to move, but the courts will be playable as we enjoy the beautiful days this time of year.

Several years ago, I was told by an experienced community leader that “If you had a little tact, you would be a force to be reckoned with.”

In my younger years, I had a knack for saying what crossed my mind before my mind slowed to process what was being said. Fast forward a decade or two and I still sometimes say things I should not, but I have learned over the years to listen with both ears and comment last if something needs to be added.

Now mind you, I don’t shy away when a tough comment needs to be said. Recently, I have had interactions with some very intelligent young people in our community that I see some of my younger self in, and I hope they realize that burning bridges with the lack of tact will not help them become leaders of tomorrow. I am always willing to engage with anyone that wants my thoughts on how to approach an issue.

This week, I leave you with the words of Isaac Newton: “Tact is the art of making a point without making an enemy.”

Matt Nicholson is the mayor of Seymour. Send comments to [email protected]