What would you do?

Published 7:51 pm Tuesday, April 9, 2019

Much discussion has been had in recent days regarding the proposed tax increases in the Southampton County and City of Franklin draft budgets. From the discussions we’ve had, very few, if any, conversation participants were overjoyed at the prospect of higher taxes.

The response most people have had, including those who have responded to our online poll regarding the subject, has been to task our local governments with tightening their belts even further and figuring out how to perform their essential services without additional tax revenue.

It’s a fair expectation of tax paying citizens that their government operates as efficiently and economically as possible while providing the services they are required to provide. That having been said, the cost of doing business, and running a government, goes up every year. The Southampton County draft budget takes into account an increase of $650,000 in employee health insurance premiums. That is only one item where costs have gone up. There are others.

We do not, and will not, advocate that taxpayers merely roll over and play dead when a tax increase is proposed. It is our right and our responsibility as citizens to question our public officials and hold them to account. However, we have also not heard a single meaningful suggestion from an angry taxpayer on how the city or county can lower or maintain the current tax rates without a substantial degradation of services.

We would like to begin a dialogue with you, our readers and fellow taxpayers, on constructive ways you feel the city and county can operate more efficiently. We invite anyone who has a constructive opinion to join the conversation by submitting their thoughts and ideas in a letter to the editor, all of which we will publish if they adhere to two rules: 1. It must include a specific idea, such as a specific department that has waste to cut or an area where there is an opportunity to operate more efficiently. Please do not simply say, “The government has to figure out how to operate more like a business and not spend what they don’t have.” The reality is that businesses do not survive unless they spend money and invest in the future. Businesses that don’t, die. So do communities. 2. Keep it from being personal. No calling out specific individuals. This is intended to be a forum of ideas, not a place to lay blame.

We hope you will join us and participate in a meaningful conversation about the future of our community. Tell us what you would do if given the opportunity to craft a local budget. Where would you spend? Where would you cut? We hope many of you will share your thoughts and idea. We’re ready to share them if you do.