Yes, the outcome matters.
But if you look just at the outcome then you’ll never really understand how it happened or why it happened.
So, here are a few thoughts about Anderson County raising property taxes by 10-cents and the aftermath.
More than one commissioner has told of numerous encounters with constituents back when the county passed the 18.25-cents property tax increase. Several even spoke of being approached at church by citizens who were concerned over this development.
And commissioners listened. And while none that I talked to used words like “accosted” or “waylaid” or “ambushed,” you don’t have to stretch your mind too far to think that maybe that’s how they felt — and not by the attitudes of people, but possibly by the number of them.
And when the possibility of an 18.25-cents property tax increase was a Mayors’ signature away from being a reality — in this case Mayor Terry Frank’s signature on a veto — everybody and their pet goat came forward with how the money was really going to start flowing in. No tax increases needed. New homes are springing up by the hundreds, a miracle internet tax is going to bring in new revenue, the good work by Trustee Regina Copeland is going to make money flow like she’s printing it, the county just has to wait for the ink to dry before it can spend it (and, no, that’s not what the Trustee is doing, she’s thinking outside the box and making it happen — some people take things way too literal).
And there was some good input, some well thought out proposals. But that was in July.
The budget process started in January — with the Budget Committee staring at raising taxes 52-cents. And those seven months, by all accounts, were “a not fun time.”
The men and women who serve on Anderson County Commission are adults. They don’t need me, or anyone, to take up for them. But if you think any one of those members stumbled and fumbled around like some silent movie slapstick comedian during this whole process, then you’re mistaken. You could see it in their eyes. You could hear it in their voices. You could tell by sudden lapses in patience and “good naturedness.” The 2019-2020 budget process was a bear.
And not a cute, cuddly bear. Hard decisions were made. To balance the 2019-2020 budget, cuts were made.
I say this jokingly (I think), but if County Commissioners thought they could avoid raising taxes, thought they could meet the financial needs of a growing county, by having car washes every Saturday in front of the Anderson County Courthouse at $10 a wash, they’d do it.
And there would be a roster for who worked when. And they all would have been there.
To judge the work of a body because of a 10-cents tax hike is like judging Ted Williams as a baseball player soley on the fact he never played for a World Series championship team (Williams played in the 1946 World Series with the Boston Red Sox, who lost to St. Louis).
If you know and understand that the Anderson County Commission has so much more responsibility beyond setting a property tax rate, then you might truly “get it.”
And it’s okay if you want to tell your commissioner you’re not going to vote for them next time around because they voted for the tax hike. That’s your right. That’s what is so great about this country and our system of government. And yeah, it’s even okay to walk up to your commissioner in the grocery store and discuss your concerns.
But … Social media has not been very kind to Anderson County Commissioners since the 10-cents tax increase was approved last week.
The vitriol that has been spewed behind the curtain of anonymity is, frankly, disgusting.
Promising to not vote for an elected official is one thing, but cursing them and calling them names, insulting them, is just … Crude and childish.
But like all the good folks who came forward in July — seven months after the budget process began — to spout the tidings of fountains of new revenue, the good citizens with a penchant for bad language and worse spelling came crawling out of the wood work to share their insight after a 10-cents tax increase was set.
And, in case you were wondering (I was), there are 47,157 registered voters in Anderson County. In the 2018 August General Election, only 14,079 of those registered voters cast a ballot.