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Our Thoughts: Tighten county's belt
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Tighten county’s belt

Last week, we had a story about an Atlanta builder that pulled out of a proposed housing development in Covington because the appraisals came in $20,000 below its desired asking price.

He said he’d check back in six months to a year, while another local builder said he expected it to take at least two years before building returns.

While the information was encouraging because it confirmed things are trending up, it was also disheartening because it looks like our local business owners have more suffering ahead.

The Newton County government is suffering, too, which is the justification the Board of Commissioners used when supporting raising the county maintenance and operation portion of the millage rate from 10.91 to 11.59.

However, Commissioner John Douglas summed it up well when he said the government was struggling because its people were struggling. If people are making and spending money, the government will get its share.

Does this county need better services? Yes. The sheriff needs more money and we need to invest millions in our roads.

However, raising the property tax rate doesn’t accomplish either of those things.

Some residents and business owners won’t be affected by the increase because their property values went down, but we bet a lot of residents, businesses and industries will be affected negatively by the change.

The Board of Commissioners might have saved the jobs of some county employees, but did it do that at the cost of a few private sector jobs?

Unemployment and foreclosures remain stubbornly high, the food bank is empty and small businesses are running with shoestring staffs.

Somehow, our businesses find a way to cut more because they have to. The county really couldn’t do the same thing?

If the extra money they collect this year leads to new industries, dozens of additional big state or federal grants and other revenue, we’ll be the first to celebrate. But lost in that celebration could be the closing of several small businesses, which may never make the news.

This is not the year to raise taxes. Tighten the proverbial belt one more notch.

Sure it hurts; join the club.

We suggest the commissioners talk to area business owners one more time before casting their final votes.

We bet they’ll find a lot more owners who ask the government simply not to hurt them further, rather than asking for any sort of helping hand.

Junk the junket

Speaking of politicians spending your money, the Obama family is taking a trip to Africa, supposedly to beef up relations with Senegal and Tanzania, two countries we are sure are vital to the security of the United States.

According to The Washington Post, the eight-day trip is going to cost American taxpayers $60 million to $100 million.

And, there was a safari planned for the first family at another major cost, but The Washington Post report squelched that.

We fully understand that the president needs to travel around the world to represent our interests, and certainly, all means need to be taken to protect him.

He currently is in Northern Ireland at the G-8 summit.

But to go on a junket to Africa to visit two countries that mean nothing to our welfare, while there isn’t enough money in the coffers to open up the White House for visitors, just doesn’t make any sense.

The respect that our fellow Americans have for our president and our government is seriously eroded right now.

We need a leader to be here in this country in order to explain why we should have a renewed trust in both again.

What we obviously don’t need is our president vacationing in Africa on our tax dime.