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Lower speed limit on Versailles Road now

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Possible solution for business license dilemma offered

By BEN CARLSON

Column as I see ’em …
Reducing the speed limit on Versailles Road isn’t going to bring back Marie Garmon or the other two women killed on that road last fall.
It isn’t going to un-injure the woman whose car was rear-ended this summer, or any of the others hurt in the mounting number of accidents on that road.
But it needs to happen, and it needs to happen now.
Judge-Executive John Wayne Conway said he has already requested that the speed limit be lowered at least through the congested portion of that road, and eventually wants it reduced all the way to the river.
That decision isn’t his, though. It rests with the formulas and whatever else state Department of Transportation officials use when determining how fast people can drive on a given roadway.
Frankly, I don’t care about formulas, traffic studies, population studies or anything else. Lowering the speed limit on Versailles Road boils down to nothing more than common sense. Along with a trailer park, subdivisions and a steady stream of driveways, the road provides access to a gravel and asphalt plant that attracts thousands of trucks each year.
Some of those trucks, as do many cars, pay little regard to the speed limit as they blaze a trail to and from those plants or their jobs in Lexington.
Will lowering the speed limit make a difference? Yes, but only if those who drive on the road obey, or are forced to obey, the law.
Here’s hoping DOT officials add a good dose of common sense to their formulas and lower the limit, and that police are tougher than a $2 steak when it comes to enforcement.
We’ve seen enough tragedy on that road to last several lifetimes already, and not reducing the speed limit will be inexcusable.

Speaking of doing the right thing, I’ve been torn over the latest effort by the fiscal court to deal with its seemingly endless business license problems.
In a recent meeting during which magistrates pondered how to more fairly impose the tax, I could have stood and applauded when Magistrate David Ruggles brought up doing away with it, saying it flies in the face of capitalism to tax someone brave enough to start and operate a business.
My enthusiasm sank a bit, though, when he reminded the court that doing away with the tax would require property owners to make up the difference in revenue.
It’s clear from my ramblings in this space that I’m no fan of taxes, be they personal, property or anything else. At best I’ll begrudgingly say they are a necessary evil.
Yet in this case I’m leaning toward leaving the business license tax in place, and not because I pay property taxes but the company I work for pays for the paper’s business license.
That tax certainly isn’t business-friendly in a community starving for more businesses, but it does offer local businesses at least a little protection from those who swoop in from the outside to make a quick buck.
For instance, a company from outside of Anderson County bidding to put a roof on your home must purchase a business license, just like companies from here.
If they don’t or simply refuse, they can be sent packing by the county’s (or city’s) code enforcement officer, leaving the work open for a local contractor.
Trouble is, given the limited ability the county has in place to enforce the tax, catching those outsiders borders on impossible.
Complicating matters even more is the simple fact that many, many local business owners either don’t know or care that they need a license and don’t bother getting one.
That, too, has to change if this tax is kept in place, and doing so will require more than yet another tweak to the law that was updated just last year.
It will also require hiring someone at least part-time to perform the job, which seems fiscally foolish being that the tax generates a paltry $60,000 a year for the fiscal court.
Or does it? The city council’s business license tax generates double that amount and is levied against only businesses operating within city limits.
If fully enforced, it stands to reason the fiscal court should be able to generate at least that much if not more, and could use a chunk of that increase to comfortably pay a part-time employee while still coming out ahead.
That’s certainly a better plan than raising property taxes, and at least gives those already paying for a license a measure of confidence that dozens or even hundreds of other business owners are being made to do the same.