OPINION COLUMNS

All Around Wise: Use the force – vote

By Richard Greene | Published Saturday, April 20, 2019
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It’s election season again.

I know it doesn’t seem that long ago that we were at the polls picking out a senator, governor and deciding on annexation rights.

But it’s time to cast ballots in even more important races. It’s time to decide in some communities who will be mayor and in others who will serve on the city council. It’s also a chance to vote for who will be on the school board.

Richard Greene

In the past these general elections have drawn a paltry turnout at best. A good example was the Decatur city council race drawing only 126 voters last year.

The general election turnout led District 30 Senator Pat Fallon to draft a bill to move all school elections to November with constitutional and statewide elections. While likely to increase turnouts every other year when the governor or president is on the ballot, it’s not a great idea to force every school bond issue to one date, likely leading to higher construction costs and bond rates.

And that’s just part of taking away local control as we saw this week with the Senate pushing through its property tax relief proposal that would force cities and counties to get voter approval before raising 3.5 percent more property tax revenue than the previous year. The good thing for fast-growth areas, like Wise County currently, is new properties do not count toward the 3.5 percent. But it is another limit on local officials deciding what’s best for their communities.

The people up for election May 4 will have an impact on all of us as much or more than who is in Washington or Austin. They will decide our tax rate, with a little discretion.

With the county adding approximately 2,400 people a year, according to the U.S. Census Bureau, the gravity of these local elected officials will be felt even more. They will have to decide how to spend the few dollars left for roads. They will need to call bond elections to build infrastructure. They will meet with developers to figure out the alphabet soup of MUDs, SUDs, TIRZs and PIDs to try to net a workable deal for all sides.

The school trustees face many of the same complicated decisions. As a superintendent early in my career put it, “they deal with people’s most prized possessions, their kids and their pocketbooks.” There is even more scrutiny than ever with both. What programs should be provided and how are they paid for? What kind of facilities are needed and do we go back to over-burdened taxpayers?

With early voting starting Monday, we will be trying to offer some assistance with the local races. Starting in this issue, we’ve provided a short questionnaire to candidates with a specific question on their race. We started with the Decatur city council and school board races. We will be looking at other races next week.

As May 4 nears, use the force to make the community better and get out to vote.

2 Responses to “All Around Wise: Use the force – vote”

  1. Note: Greene thinks there should be NO LIMITS when it comes to “local officials deciding what’s best”!

    And giving voters a voice on massive tax increases just slows things down on the road to Utopia, doncha know.

  2. Greene’s mindset is typical of the Left – and of most journalsts.

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