Is it fair to target out-of-town timberland owners?

Published 10:27 am Saturday, June 30, 2012

To the Editor:

As a homeowner and landowner in Southampton County — and one who participates in the land-use program — I was intrigued by your proposal, at least as it was relayed by Ms. Albers in the paper (“Boykins mayor proposes eliminating land-use tax on timberlands,” May 20).

I inferred from the article that your proposal was based in large part on the fact that most of the timberland owners are “outsider companies or individuals” and that you preferred shifting the burden of taxation away from “citizens of the county.” Perhaps I am wrong but I had assumed that the land-use program was enacted, in part, in an effort to try and preserve timberland and farmland from development — a way to try and preserve our county’s rural nature.

From an environmental standpoint, I believe that trees provide a tremendous benefit to our environment by absorbing carbon and emitting oxygen.

I also assume the program was at least in part a recognition that as a general rule the owners of property eligible for the land-use program do not put as great a demand on the services provided by the county (water, sewer, schools, public safety, etc.) as do properties that are not eligible for the program. Am I incorrect in my beliefs? Singling out one particular group to pay for budget shortfalls that were not, in large, generated by that group simply because they are “outsiders” does not seem fair. Perhaps it is politically expedient since those outsiders are not voters at the local level and therefore “easier pickings” than the residents who object to paying their fair share for the services they receive.

I do not like the $200 garbage fee for the privilege of taking my trash to one of the two landfills that I use, but realize that the budget deficit must be made up in some fashion — either cut services or raise taxes. Your suggested method seems to me to be something similar to what our Washington bureaucrats would be proposing — the budget needs to be cut, but don’t cut it in my district!

I certainly understand the politics of your proposal. My college political science professor told our class that a politician’s first job is to get elected, and that his second job is to get re-elected. I would submit that even though a position that will aid in your election by the citizens of the Town of Boykins, it is not the proper course.

As you have perhaps guessed, I was disappointed in your proposal. You need not worry about my vote, however, since I am outside the Boykins District.

Robert Powell
Southampton County