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Property taxes must be high priority for citizens

Everyone is a patriot, proudly touting their support for county and country — at least until it comes time to pay their taxes.

Why is it that so many people fail to meet their civic duty and pay their property taxes in a timely manner?

The answer may not be the same for everyone. For some, it may be financial concerns. For others, it could just be a mistake. But sadly, it seems to be nothing more than pure laziness in some cases.

By now, readers have seen the massive list of delinquent tax notices published in The Ironton Tribune last week. A revised version will be printed Monday.

More than $650,000 is owed on nearly 1,600 pieces of property. That is a sizeable chunk of funding for a cash-strapped county and school districts that can always use the funds.

Sadly, this is even a huge improvement over past years, in part thanks to the efforts of county treasurer Stephen Dale Burcham and his staff.

While some may have legitimate excuses, many of the people who are on the delinquent list should be embarrassed that they are not pulling their weight and doing their part in a timely manner.

Even if everyone on this list paid today, that doesn’t change the fact that these bills are long overdue and the funds could already be helping make a difference.

You see, these are taxes from the 2006 tax year, payable in 2007. Everyone whose name is on this list received a bill in February 2007 for the first half taxes and again in July for the second half.

So, even in the best-case scenario, all these people are at least six months late paying their bills. How much do you want to bet they aren’t late on their electric bill? If so they would be sitting in the dark, burning furniture.

Twenty bucks says these same people have paid their cable bill, their house payment, credit card bills and other expenses.

I would like to see each of those who are on this list make a commitment to addressing this issue. Some of these individuals are respected members of the community, elected officials or business owners.

It is time to take responsibility and honor your commitments as citizens of this county we all love.

The county government should also look at all available options to impose the stiffest penalties possible for delinquent taxpayers.

Considering that the lion’s share of the county’s property taxes go to the local school districts, paying property taxes in a timely manner should be a high priority for each and every person.

True patriotism is about far more than flag waving and parade marching. Sometimes it is about doing what’s right and putting your money — tax money, that is — where your mouth is.

Michael Caldwell is publisher of The Ironton Tribune. To reach him, call (740) 532-1445 ext. 24 or by e-mail at mike.caldwell@irontontribune.com.