Thursday, July 1, 2010


That we are in a very serious recession is no secret, nor should it surprise anyone that many of our citizens are great needs feel the recession in very painful ways. The great truth is that in a recession we tend to cut programs that help those with the greatest needs. Many governments start new budget years on July 1st and they will struggle to balance those budgets in the face of lower receipts from taxes and their other major income streams.

What’s interesting is something that seems to occur at all levels and it surprises me not that right here at the local level you see it as well: we as citizens have no problem at all holding two conflicting opinions at the same time. We do it all of the time! What you might ask are these opinions? One is that we want government to do more. The other is that we don’t want government to raise our taxes.

Something has to give folks! We can’t do it all. All of our wants and needs have price tags. We elect folks to make tough decisions and maybe they might feel better if they knew exactly what we wanted them to do. Right here locally we have a discussion going on. We talk about spending bond money to fund the town’s library expansion and some are upset that we are not spending tax dollars to fund a local museum that happens to be a non-profit privately owned.

What do we want to do with these tax dollars? What is our preferred outcome? Do we want to cut things that are being funded right now? Do we want to raise taxes? How can we continue to expect our elected leaders to make these decisions if we’re not sure what we want? What do you think we ought to do?

1 comment:

JCB said...

My vote is for not spending on either one. There's a huge difference between needs (including social services for the least among us) and desires (including expanding a library that is perfectly functional today). Sure, the library isn't as big as Ames, Iowa. But building it *will* raise taxes (despite the manager's assertions otherwise) -- without a clear "need" (and given our risks in Lot #5 and the falling down police station), I simply can't see why we need a bigger space.

(Thanks for writing this -- I've been meaning to ask you what you thought of the museum mess but you've been out of town!)