Letters to the editor - Monday (1-28-2013)
Sales tax isn’t the best way to raise revenue
Regarding the county’s discussion of a referendum on a sales-tax increase:
I don’t like taxes any more than the next person but as Ben Franklin said, “nothing is certain but death & taxes.” And in the interest of full disclosure, I’m an employed, home-owning, voting resident of Rowan County.
With that said, I want you to reconsider ANY proposal for a sales tax, increase or otherwise. My reasoning: It’s one of, if not the most, regressive of taxes, meaning it has the most detrimental effect on the people least able to afford it.
A proportional income tax — e.g. a fixed rate on ALL income save a basic, personal exemption — is probably the fairest of all when considering overall ability to pay, but it doesn’t capture revenue from taxpayers who earn here and reside outside Rowan.
A property tax, the one commissioners are proposing to possibly (ha!) reduce, is also a proportional tax AND has the added benefit of capturing revenue from taxpayers residing outside of Rowan.
Let’s talk about that property tax. Most elected lawmakers are property owners; thus, lowering or maintaining property tax rates becomes a self-serving proposition. More so when considering that a property owner is more likely to be an active voter than is,say, a homeless person. The sad thing is, a lot of property owners tend to think their renters don’t pay property taxes. Really? If that’s true, then said property owner is NOT charging any rent (ha again!) because even if the rent is below cost, a portion goes toward taxes.
I won’t go into a proportional income tax (tax #2) because that would mean a huge increase, at least in the short term, in the unemployed (read most of the IRS and a lot of CPAs & tax preparers). It’s such a political hot potato!
So if you’re absolutely forced to raise taxes, my vote is the property tax. And you don’t have to “request” permission from Raleigh!
— Dwayne Dvoracek
Selective listening and accountability
No one expects our elected officials to please everyone. In fact, one measure of a good compromise is that it pleases no one.
Good decision-making has nothing to do with who speaks the loudest. It starts with listening and consensus building. Unfortunately, Commission Chairman Jim Sides hears what he wants to hear and disregards the rest. And by selective listening, those who disagree are disenfranchised and relegated to “special interests”.
In his “Letter to the citizens of Rowan County” (Salisbury Post, Jan. 16), Jim Sides asks the question, “who speaks the loudest ... who speaks for Rowan County?” He asks this question as if the taxpaying individuals, organizations, local paper and elected city leaders should not be allowed to question his decisions. He seems to believe that it is too much to expect, for these “special interests” to demand that he clearly articulate his decision-making process and share the facts used to render his decisions. Citing fear of being misquoted and adverse controversy is no excuse.
This is not about being loud or who holds the reins. It is about selective listening and accountability for your decisions. We, the “special interests,” speak for Rowan County, Jim. The taxpaying individuals, businesses, elected leaders, institutions, editorial pages ... speak for Rowan County. City residents are county residents. You don’t ignore them or control them, you listen to and represent them.
— Michael S. Young
Front-line employees should come first
The Rowan County Board of Commissioners held their first budget work session on Jan. 22. Each commissioner presented ideas that he’d like to see in the 2012-13 budget.
Many good ideas were shared with the public, with buildings the focus of much of the discussion. All commissioners agreed a business incubator would be good for the county’s economic development efforts.
Other ideas focused on taxes, ensuring continued efficiencies in services, recognition programs for employees, and health and human services.
Yes, the county budget leaves little wiggle room for expansion. So questions are being asked as to what are the real priorities.
Any additional money should be spent on firefighters, sheriff deputies, EMS personnel and teachers — not administrators. Funding should go to the front line — those delivering vital services to our citizens — not the back office.
Further, County Manager Gary Page has been an outstanding manager, and the community loves him. His most recent accomplishments of fixing the inspections department and seeing us through capital projects that have been delayed for years are evidence of his strong leadership. We should extend his contract for another two years so we have stable leadership to make sure our county recovers economically. The so-called “fiscal cliff” is by no means over.
We need more people on the front line and in the classroom, not more people in the office. We must keep our priorities straight.
— Jon Barber
Jon Barber serves on the Rowan County Board of Commissioners.
PFLAG scholarships are inappropriate
The recent article announcing that Salisbury-Rowan Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays will offer five $1,000 scholarships to Rowan County gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender students and their straight allies, including those in the Rowan-Salisbury Schools was certainly well written. PFLAG has to be commended for always painting homosexuality in a good light. However, I question the wisdom of any person or organization encouraging students with financial or other incentives to identify himself or herself sexually at such an early age.
There are numerous programs and policies in place that discourage sexual activity among adolescents and minors, as well there should be. The physical and psychological consequences of participation in the homosexual lifestyle in particular are such that we should not allow our children to be offered scholarships otherwise. (I know PFLAG will point out that they are not encouraging sexual activity, but only allowing our kids to be comfortable with their sexual identity — a very fine line, indeed.) Just the same, I question the appropriateness of these scholarships, and our school system being a party to the process by making the applications available through its guidance offices.
— Tim Deal