In our experience, there are three words politicians with an eye on staying in office generally tend to avoid: millage rate increase. After all, just to say them is to invite the wrath of property owners tired of bearing so much of the burden for government.
Yet first term school board member Charlie Johnson used those words Thursday night. And while we are against any tax increases except as a last resort, we do commend Johnson for his candor.
After all, honesty, in life or in politics, is always the best policy and should include an understanding that disagreement over an issue cannot get in the way of working together for the common good. That applies whether we’re talking about government at the federal, state or local level. There has to be room to disagree – because only then do we come to a full understanding of the problems we face and ways to fix them.
It’s not always easy to achieve that balance, but it is important that we strive to do so. That’s why it’s also important that elected officials not only be good stewards of our tax dollars, but also be honest and open in the process.
In this case the school system is looking at ways to plug at least a $1.5 million hole in the fiscal year 2010 budget, which begins July 1. Blame a sagging economy and state cuts for the bulk of the deficit, though Bryan also now gets less in state funds because of its growth in wealth before the economic meltdown. While school officials weigh their options, Johnson said one might have to be a millage rate increase and taxpayers deserved to know that.
He is right on both counts. As unpalatable as a tax hike might be at a time when so many are struggling to keep afloat, the possibility cannot be discounted if there is absolutely no other way to maintain the quality of education Bryan County Schools are known for.
In addition, we are always in favor of open dialogue between elected officials and the public they are sworn to serve.
In that regard, Johnson, who occasionally uses our blogsite at bryancountynews.net to communicate with residents ,served his constituents and this county well Thursday night.
Bryan County News