Witnessing the death of a bedroom community

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By Ben Carlson

The notion that Anderson County should remain a bedroom community has been issued a death sentence, and not a moment too soon.

For decades our leaders and those bent on making fortunes on residential real estate have shunned industry and the tax base it provides.

Don’t believe us? Then name one other county in the Bluegrass that hasn’t acquired a spin-off business since Toyota arrived in Georgetown all those years ago.

You can’t because there aren’t any.

The trial that has led to this death sentence has been going on for years. The thinking was that Anderson could flourish as a nice, quiet community void of the pitfalls that sometime accompany industry.

But just like socialized health care and its ugly sister communism, bedroom communities fail every time they are tried.

As homeowners who work and shop in other places continue to pile in, the rest of us are forced to endure higher property taxes to provide infrastructure and other services. Those taxes drive families from their farms and long-time residents from their homes, all in the name of a developer filling yet another subdivision.

Need evidence? Take a whiff of that county tax bill you just received and think how much better it would smell if a factory or three could bear some of that outrageous burden.

While our neighbors used the boom times over the past 20 years to sock public money into economic development and reap its benefits, we frittered away our opportunity. Now, with money in short supply and residential real estate sucking the gas pipe, our leaders get “creative” and sucker punch us with tax increases disguised as special taxing districts for fear they won’t be able to make next year’s payroll.

Interestingly, the same agency that has for years allowed these crimes against community to go unpunished is now in charge of their prosecution. The Economic Development Authority has been freed from playing second fiddle to the now defunct Industrial Foundation, and is apparently poised to use the $1.2 million it was given by the foundation to build an industrial park.

After years of getting short-sheeted by the city and county for funding, the EDA now has some money and a competent paid director. More importantly, the infusion of cash is coupled with an infusion of new members who apparently are willing to do the obvious: build an industrial park.

EDA President Charlie Cammack, who knows a thing or three about money, sang a tune that was music to our ears following the agency’s meeting last Wednesday.

“Nothing stays the same,” he said. “If we stay like we were in 1950, we’re going to become a ghost town. We can’t be a 1950 community.”

Hang ’em high, Charlie, and use a new rope.