The Newton County Board of Commissioners has a tough task in front of them as usual, deciding how to make expenses meet revenues, but we’ll say what we’ve said for each of the past few years — this is still not the time to raise taxes.
The housing market is starting to see a small rebound, more businesses seem to be opening up, but a lot of people and businesses remain on very fragile footing, and there’s little reason to risk fracturing that footing.
If the economy continues to improve, the tax digest — which dropped again this year — may start rising. Sales tax revenue has already started doing so the past couple years, a trend that should only continue.
We know times are tough and more money is needed for roads, law enforcement and to reduce furlough days for county workers.
Those are all justified expenses, but we’re asking the board for another year or two of patience.
Some of that patience needs to be shown in the requests for pet projects. Given where the budget stands already, throwing other ideas out there seems like a poor idea; unless it’s proven those ideas can make or save the county money.
One revenue-generating idea discussed in lieu of taxes was charging a fee to use the county’s recycling centers, which are currently free.
Those centers reportedly lose around $750,000 a year. One issue is that the centers are being used by drivers of out-of-county vehicles. Well, let’s shut that down immediately. What’s the hold-up? And we’ll say the same thing for commercial dumping. If it’s not allowed, then stop it and fine people who violate the law.
Or start charging a hefty fee for those two kinds of users. There might be a good way to make money.
Make the tough decisions. Prove why they should be made and stand behind them. Tax increases and new fees should be the last resorts and should be vetted to the highest extent before they’re looked to as an answer.