In her July 22 column, Barbara Morgan tells us that "bold, well spoken retiree" Bill Hoosen is upset that the Newton County Board of Commissioners did not recently raise property taxes. According to Morgan, Hoosen believes the lack of a tax increase "will harm the county."
Morgan takes the point of view that county government should come first and the working, tax paying people of this county must follow that lead. The reader who did not know better would believe that the people are here just to provide money to the county for its operation. Whatever money may be left over belongs to those who earned it, until the next budget is prepared.
Hoosen said, "...if the tax digest is shrinking, the millage rate should probably be going up."
Let's examine that logic. If the tax digest is going down, that means property is worth less; working people who have poured their life savings and labor into homes and property are seeing them dwindle in value. What a great time to raise taxes, according to this reasoning. People have less, so the county should take more. The operation of the county should take precedence over the well being of the individuals, right? Wrong.
There may be a simple solution to the fact that Hoosen and Morgan believe taxes are now too low in Newton County. I would call on the Board of Commissioners to set up a two-tiered system of taxes in this county.
Tax System A could be for those who are struggling to make a living, who live from paycheck to paycheck and who need their money for groceries more than the county needs it for anything else.
Tax System B could be for those worried that they are not paying enough taxes. They could, as Hoosen allegedly said, perform "their patriotic duty" and volunteer to pay higher taxes.
Those patriotic souls could meet with county officials and volunteer whatever amount they could agree on above the current tax rate. Those worried about their jobs and money could be left alone to pay the lower rate already imposed on them.
I would ask this of the "more tax" crowd: How much is enough?
How much money do you need to make this the best place in America to live?
Give me a ballpark estimate so we can see what that status would cost us.
Of course there is no answer: Government can never get enough money. It could tax us all 100 percent of our income and still look for ways to find more.
Just ask the Newton County Board of Education, which slipped in a tax increase while we were all watching the Board of Commissioners.
I salute the majority of the Board of Commissioners for taking a stand for the working people of this county. It's about time we had government officials who are true to their words.
If that makes them ambitious, so be it. Keep up the good work.
John Douglas is a former state senator who lives in Newton County. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.