The sign standing on all major roadways into Albion declaring “A Smart Community” will soon be removed due to the community’s failure to meet the requirements of holding the title.
According to The World Foundation for Smart Communities (WFSC) there are areas in which Albion has shown little improvement, and it shall hereby be deemed as “dumb.”
Founded in 1997, the WFSC awarded the title “A Smart Community” as a signature of pride for cities who demonstrate a high regard for technology, economic development, creative innovation and the environment.
Fitting the perfect mold, Albion was one of the first cities on board, with Albion College accredited for the increased intelligence of the town. But as this city has developed over the past 10 years, issues with the college’s tuition have presented a lack of economical advancement.
“We know that our spending has been on the borderline of qualifications over the past couple of years, but unfortunately our budget doesn’t give us enough leeway to lessen the cost of tuition,” said Ronna Dandall, college president. “If being economical with our tuition means being smart, then I want nothing to do with it.”
For the 2009-2010 school year, the cost of tuition is expected to rise to $51,000. This inflation is caused by a need to support all existing college programs despite lower numbers in enrollment that are due to a decrease in first-year students.
This inflation from $29,000, current tuition and smart limit, has caused precaution for the WFSC, giving them grounds to withdraw the title to the community.
“Albion is an intelligent college,” said John M. Eger, director of WFSC. “What they’re doing is unreasonable, and if they (the college) really wanted the title, then they would figure out a way to lower tuition to what we would consider smart.”
City officials have been working with the college on possible solutions to lowering the tuition, but with the first-year class expected to enroll only 12 students, the list of available options is short.
“We’ve tried presenting a loan package to President Obama in his current stimulus package like everyone else with economical issues, but we haven’t heard back from him yet,” said John Domino, city mayor. “I guess we’re sort of out of ideas right now.”
If requirements are not met by June 1, WSFC will order the immediate removal of the signs and ownership of the title to the city of Albion. Though the future of a smart Albion is grim, town officials still remain optimistic.
“We’re just not in a situation right now to have a smart community,” said Domino. “Who knows though, maybe someday we can be smart again.”