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Change isn’t always better

Dear Editor:

After a little fact checking I think HCED makes an excellent point – “Continued population growth without proportionate retail (sales tax) growth will negatively impact the city’s budget” (Hartselle Enquirer Letter to the Editor 10-10-2012).

I am a little skeptical, however, of the revenue numbers whether it’s purely alcohol sales or an increase in total retail sales, especially when enforcement expenses are considered. What scares me (and this is the month to be scared) is Hartselle’s population growth. People are in love with Hartselle and we can’t get them to leave or stop them from locating here. According to the 2010 Census, Hartselle’s population increased 18.6 percent between 2000 and 2010.

This is almost twice the rate as local cities that were wet during all or most of that time (Decatur, Guntersville and Athens). So just in case the revenue projections don’t work out, being wet should slow Hartselle’s population growth and prevent the inevitable financial melt-down – according to the data.

In 1985, the Coca Cola Company made what NBC News called the “The Marketing Goof of the Century” when, based on taste tests with 200,000 consumers (extensive research, documented with references) it introduced New Coke. For those readers too young to have experienced this disaster, click on the “Heritage” tab at Convinced that consumers no longer loved the formula that had been successful for the previous 99 years, the decision makers at Coke changed the formula to the one their data (re. Buxton Report) showed was better. Consumers were outraged.

Seventy nine days later Coke reintroduced the original formula as Coca-Cola classic ending the firestorm of consumer protests. New Coke is no longer available in the US. Coke’s data didn’t show the whole picture. To consumers Coke was more than just a soft drink. It represented good times, refreshment and relaxation – values that are hard to quantify but, as Coke learned the hard way, values that are real.

Not all change is progress. On Nov. 6th the decision makers of Hartselle will have the opportunity to choose whether or not to change the formula that consumers prefer twice as much as the wet competition. The only doom we need to fear is “Those who fail to learn from history are doomed to repeat it.”

Hartselle is a GREAT place to live and Hartselle is dry – according to the data.

Mark Coleman