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The role of government

September 10, 2011

Later comments in the article ascribe to me motivations that I’m “just in it for myself”. I think I’m in it for the benefit of ALL tax payers. I think as a resident of Watauga, I’ve got a realistic expectation that my elected officials  should be capable of allocating funding to those aspects of a city which create the most value to ALL residents.

I’ve written about water/sewage/drainage issues in previous blog posts, so I’ll not belabor the point here. Here’s my article on why I support the water/sewage/drainage rate increase: https://watchingwatauga.wordpress.com/2011/08/27/why-i-am-for-the-30-increase-in-water-and-sewer-rates-and-100-increase-in-drainage/ Here’s my article on my analysis of the water system: https://watchingwatauga.wordpress.com/2011/08/27/wataugas-water-system/

I’ll be asking for some review of these systems after the budget “crisis” is over. I want to get the present situation out where it can be seen for what it is.

I believe the FIRST role of our local government should be to provide a safe, drinkable water source.  This FAR outstrips any other service they provide. This has been neglected.

Secondly, I’m for providing STREETS that are passable and facilitate safe passage for trade, pleasure, worship or other purposes conducive to the welfare of the residents of the city (and even those from outside the city).  This has been neglected.

One need only ponder what a fire engine would do if the streets were impassable enough that they weren’t able to get to a fire. Or if the streets were passable, hooking up to a fire hydrant that wasn’t capable of delivering water. There is a hierarchy of value to services and this hierarchy has been SERIOUSLY out of whack for about 10 years now. It’s disheartening to me to see.

The next paragraph was an explanation I made of how Parks and Library could be run by churches or civic organizations with little impact to availability to those who use the services.

I gave examples of how, even if funding for non-essential city services were cut, that other entities could provide the same services at little or no cost to residents.  Historically, churches and other organizations were where people got books.  Historically, churches were the primary sources for education.   For some reason, our modern society has gotten the notion that if government doesn’t do it, it won’t be done.  I was attempting to remind Mr. Evans that there was no basis for this false belief.  I think it should be challenged.  Government is not the source of all good things.  Government exists to SERVE the people.  City Council exists to ensure that the government is kept in check and provides ONLY those services which benefit ALL and act as a check against unnecessarily encumbering the taxpayers with a financial burden they cannot bear.  Let us never forget, that the city takes your property if you fail to pay your taxes.  This isn’t VOLUNTARY, it is COMPULSORY!!

Part of the problem with the system is that those who desire new services have had no check on the burning desires of their neighbors to spend their incomes.  There are a LOT of services I’d like to have if someone else were paying for them.  However, I’d prefer NOT to have those services by compelling my neighbor to pay for those services at the risk of them losing their home.

I’d LOVE for someone to tell me why I MUST pay for someone else to use the Rec Center or lose my home.  Why MUST I pay for a library for someone else to use, or lose my home?  If there is not universal benefit, there should not be universal taxation.  If the library is so important, let those who use it pay for it.  If the rec center is so valuable, let those who use it pay for it.  Rates for the rec center are artificially low because I’m being COMPELLED to pay for it.  Please tell me why this MUST be the case.

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4 Comments leave one →
  1. Jo Lynn Haussmann permalink
    September 11, 2011 10:10 pm

    I have to say once again, “I totally agree with you, Russell!” I am one of those who are struggling and I don’t need to pay for things that aren’t essential! Just like our taxes for TCCC, I’ve never been there and I’m not able to go there. Why should we be paying for things that only “other” people use. That’s fine in a good economy but we are doing without groceries and struggling to survive because of frivolous stuff we’re being taxed for. I say, “it is time we citizens get involved in the things we WANT & not count on government to just provide for us.” You are right, the government is here to serve us but not with recreation whether it be a rec center, parks, libraries, or whatever!

    • September 11, 2011 11:48 pm

      Thank you for your comments. I agree entirely with you about TCCC. In a previous comment, I noted that on average it costs the average Watauga taxpayer about $100 for their forced subscription to the library. Between the two of them (the library and TCCC) that’s $200/year. I’d like to have full control over those dollars again. I’m willing to support recreation, but I think it needs to be done on a cost-recovery basis. That is, that those who use the services should pay the entire bill for those services. If I don’t use it, I shouldn’t pay for it.
      Thank you for your comments.

  2. Judi Aguiar permalink
    September 13, 2011 1:00 am

    Russell,

    I attended TCC fo a year and between the cost of tuition and the classes themselves, I can’t imagine why I should be paying an extra $100 per year. My husband and I are both retired living on a lean income. We still pay school taxes, why the library tax too?? If I used those services I would pay for them, but we don’t so why are we paying?

    Respectfully,

    Mr. and Mrs Robert Aguiar

    • September 13, 2011 3:58 pm

      Thank you for your comments. I appreciate very much that you’ve taken the time to comment. My preference would also be for these services to be be cost-recovery. If I use it, I should pay for it. If I don’t use the service, I don’t want to pay for it. I hope that by asking these questions and getting feedback from people, that we can engage with the leadership of Watauga and have our voices heard and preferences honored. I don’t see much listening going on now, so it may take getting some new people in.
      Thank you for your comments.

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