We were disheartened by the latest rhetoric at this week’s county commissioners meeting as commissioners began wringing their hands about not having enough money to cut the property tax rate.
This is especially troubling, since the previous debate had been largely over whether the cut should be at least a penny (the general consensus) vs. two cents (initially being pushed by county commissioner Bill Lashley, who now seems to be having second thoughts).
Instead, now commissioners seemed to be laying the groundwork for explaining that “oh, we’re so sorry, but we just can’t ‘afford’ a property tax cut.”
We noted that there was absolutely no mention during this week’s county commissioner meeting that any expenditures – new employees, higher salaries, etc. – could be scaled back.
No, it seems the only implication was that possibly a tax cut would have to be postponed.
The county’s commissioners have given thousands and thousands of dollars in higher salaries and bonuses – to jail personnel, to social workers at the department of social services, and to EMT personnel – and the interim county manager’s budget proposes even higher raises for everyone in the county’s employ.
But not even a penny (tax cut) for the taxpayer.
What’s wrong with this picture?
Yes, we can understand everyone’s concern with school safety – something that didn’t seem to bother the school board earlier this year when they scrapped plans to expand the number of SROs funded by the school system.
In fact, the school board also didn’t find SROs important enough in the previous year’s budget either.
Now, it seems, most of the discussion is as though the county should simply absorb any new, or additional costs.
No, it seems to us that the school system – which has received something like $100 million in so-called “Covid relief funding” – should be able to find a few thousand dollars (of its own) to pay for the school resource officers that should have been included from the beginning.
But the county’s taxpayers deserve a break. We believe the commissioners should still be able to find a way to cut the tax rate by two cents.
But surely by at least one!