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It doesn’t matter to me if merging city and county government would save money.
Heck, I don’t care if it ends up costing more — well, a little more.
Merging will be a hands-down winner with me if it accomplishes only one thing: kill the ridiculous taxing districts.
As painful as it is to read and write, what this county needs more than anything right now is to “redistribute the wealth.” (President Barack Obama, 2008-present).
No, not the wealth held by the wealthy, so don’t go getting all Sarah Palin and drawing targets on that outdated photo of me (I’m a bit fatter now).
By wealth I mean the total amount of local tax money that is collected in Anderson County and disproportionately distributed to the health, library, Extension and fire taxing districts.
The first two collect hundreds of thousands of dollars every year from Anderson County property owners that, frankly, they don’t need.
If you’re just joining this circus, I’ve spent a considerable amount of time and chewed an incredible amount of Tums trying to stomach my way through reports detailing how much the health and library boards take in vs. spend, and how they spend it.
I’m not going to reheat that smelly skillet of hash yet again, but welcome you to visit our website and search the archives. Those reports are there in all their gory digital glory.
Or, just do an eyes right next time you head from Main Street the Bypass and you’ll see 2.5 million reasons, each of which has taken the form of a new health department building that was completely unnecessary.
I’ve asked long-timers how and why these agencies were ever granted unilateral authority to tax us without being accountable to us, and have received nothing but shoulder shrugs and a bunch of I dunno’s.
None that comprise these boards stand election, yet they are allowed to set tax rates, create budgets and operate with impunity when it comes to answering to taxpayers — the recently created Extension district being the lone exception.
The city government has nothing to do with any of them, and the fiscal court’s only job is to confirm that the districts have created and approved a budget. Magistrates can’t make the district change its budget, even if they want to.
Meanwhile, the county’s fire district languishes along with aging gear, crumbling fire halls and barely a pot to … well, you know what in.
Elsewhere, the county’s recycling program is vastly improved, but there isn’t so much as spare change to build that program into what it can and should be. Anderson County should have its own recycling center, and there is plenty of tax revenue available to pay for one. Trouble is, that revenue is being gobbled up elsewhere.
There are numerous examples just like recycling and the fire district, but I think you get the point.
Instead of some government agencies playing prince and others pauper, let’s get back on top of this and put the money where it’s needed.
“Let me be clear” (Obama, 2008-present), I’m not looking to do away with the library or the health board, the fire district or the Extension. What I’d like to see is whatever this new elected body is called have final authority over the budgets of each taxing district, including setting its tax rate.
That way, if one of them gets loose with a building that isn’t needed or starts squirreling away millions in cash instead of lowering its tax rate, we can actually throw the bums out who let it happen and start again.