Dumbfounded. That is about the only word that I can use to describe my feelings about the recent arbitrary tax decisions of the government at every level. I find it difficult to believe, given the recent budgets presented and passed, that any elected official considers tax money, OUR money. Elected officials of every level seem to have lost sight that they are taking what we work so hard to earn and redistributing it to projects that are increasingly limited in scope and appeal to the general electorate.
Over the last two decades in particular, local, county and state governments have transformed from protectors of their citizens to proxy CEOs intent on using everyone’s tax dollars for items that are difficult to define as absolute necessities.
At the county level, there is dollar shuffling going on to try to sneak the fiscal reality past voters. Though you can find details in the published budget (provided you have hours to cull through it), voters likely won’t hear the fact that over five millions dollars of the county budget is debt service. Or that the “limited tax increase” is only blunted by using fund balance dollars, which is unsustainable. There are only two ways out of such a situation: raise funds (by borrowing or raising taxes) or lower expenses. As taxpayers, we have a right to be critical when expenses provide questionable benefits. For instance, the county health services department alone has added nearly 100 positions in the last five years. How many taxpayers have benefitted?
Most of us understand budgeting. Now imagine if you could just spend a percentage of your neighbor’s money without consequence. Maybe you’d be driving a nicer car; or eat out more often; or even turn up the thermostat. Truth is, most of us make sacrifices required to live within our means. It’s time to ask elected officials at every level to do the same.
To stop the endless overspending, elected officials cannot be left to themselves. We, the people need to voice our objections. We need to write, email, text and call elected officials regularly so they cannot deny their constituent’s opinions. We need to be prepared to step up and run for offices that are presently held by those with no regard for the taxpayers. (NOTE: Key local office elections are next April but you need to file your candidate papers, and collect signatures, with the county in December.)
If we don’t like the ever-increasing tax burden we are being forced to take on, it’s time to take back the power from those who have wielded it irresponsibly and return to sensible, responsible use of taxpayer dollars. It won’t happen without you!