Money hungry politicians or effective leaders?
By LPR Staff
Professionally speaking, budget time is my least favorite time of the year. I’m sure there are about three dozen city, county and school district staff members and officials who agree with me. However, this time of year is probably my cellular provider’s favorite time of the year, because, invariably, I will use every one of my p
lan minutes, plus a few hundred more, answering calls from people hollering about our taxes going up – again.
This week has been no exception. As the City of Lockhart and Caldwell County get closer to finishing their budgets, they talk more and more about the tax rates they need to set to pay for those budgets. And the more those discussions become public, the more my phone rings.
As a taxpayer myself, I understand why it’s frustrating that taxes keep going up. But I also get frustrated in the supermarket and at the gas pumps when I discover the prices are going up there, too. Five years ago, I bought my car because it only cost $15 to fill the tank. This week, I feel like a conquering hero if that $15 will get my gas gauge over a quarter-tank.
But that’s not the point.
The real point is, as much as I’d like to, there is not a thing I can do about increasing taxes. As a citizen, I can tell my elected officials that I’m frustrated. As a journalist, I can tell our readers what’s happening. The rest, though, is up to someone else. It’s up to the citizens, all of us together, to do something, if we think something needs to be done.
I may or may not agree with the way our leaders spend our tax money, but when push comes right down to shove, it’s not my job to tell anyone what to think about that. All I get to do is tell people what’s going on. And if people who believe the leaders are doing the wrong thing don’t say anything to them, how are they to know their constituents want them to rethink those choices?
Yes, the rates have been discussed and the budgets are working documents. However, each entity has to hold at least three public hearings (two on proposed tax rates and at least one on the budget) before the leaders vote the budgets into effect. Normally, those public hearings are very, very lonely for me. I tend to be the only one in the audience, and later field phone calls as to what happened.
Taxes are going up again this year. Prices are higher, raises are being given to cover the cost of living, and our governments are trying as best they can to prioritize and spend tax dollars in accordance with citizen needs. And as taxpayers, we have an absolute right to know where the money goes, and to say what you think about it. Public hearings are the venue for those discussions
Your voice can’t be heard if you don’t raise it. And our leaders don’t know what we want unless we tell them.