The Marion County Board of Supervisors finds itself in a difficult situation: Economic decline requires raising taxes to pay for basic services that residents demand, yet higher taxes in the long run make it more difficult to turn around the economy.
The board’s solution, reached Friday, was to try and ride out the storm for now with the same tax rate rather than a 4.4-mill increase it had considered.
That was the best of two difficult choices.
Raising taxes would have taken some pressure off county budgets during the fiscal year that begins Oct. 1. However, it would have done so by putting more stress on the county’s taxpayers to come up with an additional $550,000 or so that the millage increase would have demanded. Considering the difficulty many individuals and businesses are having to make ends meet in Marion County, the right decision was to avoid putting additional burdens on them.
Government works best when it realizes that every dollar it has is taken by force from the taxpayers and represents the toil of those workers’ hands. But often the case is that government officials, particularly at the federal level, see their budgets as something their entitled to that comes from nowhere and can be spent willy nilly.
Thankfully, the Board of Supervisors decision reflects that supervisors appreciate that their funding comes from the people, and that the people’s will must come first.
Of course, not raising taxes leaves a lot of difficult decisions to be made about how to balance the budget. So in return county taxpayers should try to listen and be understanding if services have to be cut, which is inevitable when less money is coming into government coffers.
The county’s financial guru, CPA Charlie Prince, advised that if supervisors didn’t raise taxes this year then they will have to do so next year. Maybe so, but let’s hope there’s some good economic news between now and then that will make it easier for everyone to afford a tax hike.