Belts need tightening before adding new taxes

Published 12:00 am Monday, January 24, 2005

Numerous times in this space, we've expressed our feelings on adequately funding law enforcement.

In our minds, these men and women should be provided the best equipment, the best training and the best pay our community can provide.

These brave souls put on their badges each day and walk into the unknown. Their badges may be made of metal, but at their core is pure courage.

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Last week, the Lawrence County Commissioners announced plans to put a tax increase levy on the November ballot. The sole purpose of the levy would be to generate money to help fund the under funded Lawrence County Sheriff's Office.

And, if the county can show where it has truly tightened its financial belt, we'll happily support the tax levy.

Unfortunately, so far we're not convinced the commissioners and other county officeholders have made genuine efforts to do that, or at least the signs do not point to that direction.

We're certain county leaders know this, however, being a leader is much more than simply showing up for meetings, attending ribbon cuttings and politicking between bites of cake and sips of punch. Being a leader means often making difficult, perhaps unpopular, decisions.

A couple of facts are clear.

First, the Lawrence County Sheriff's Office needs additional funding. The tiny number of deputies on patrol at any given time should frighten residents. Heaven forbid one of your loved ones is in need of assistance when the lone deputies on duty are on the other side of the county.

Second, the county could use a good dose of fiscal responsibility. Last year, facing a sizable budget deficit, the county simply played with the numbers and, on paper at least, cut the supplies and equipment budgets just enough to make the budget balance.

The end of the year came and guess what? The county had spent much more than planned. Trimming the budget and making things more efficient is not simply a burden for the commissioners. Doing so will take all county leaders.

We suspect residents in the county will wholeheartedly support the tax levy, but only if our county leaders can make a valid case that taxpayers' money is being spent as judiciously as possible right now.