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Simply Speaking: Difficult times

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Ellis County government is having a difficult time of it in a number of areas. I’d say, first of all, like every governmental entity, their spending habits are constantly outpacing their income, requiring more and better (read slicker) ways of increasing said inflow.

Currently, Commissioners Court here is struggling to meet their legislature-mandated requirement to notify the electorate about the fact they’re about to raise your taxes. Oh, they’re calling it a “tax revenue increase” on an official release, published in at least one local newspaper. That definition doesn’t exactly tell county taxpayers more tax dollars will be coming out of their already heavily stressed pocketbooks next year. Revenues, theoretically at least, could come from a number of sources other than directly out of individual taxpayer’s threadbare pockets, so “tax revenue increase” doesn’t quite pass the smell test for up-front informing.

This official notice, released (strangely) AFTER the required first of two public hearings, seems to have settled on that blurred ‘tax revenue increase’ terminology as sufficient, yet it is far short of just coming out with the simple truth, “This all-Republican Ellis County Commissioners Court (four precinct commissioners and the county judge), because of our spending habits, is planning on raising your taxes by .051282 percent (5 percent +).”   

Incidentally, a number of regular citizens showed up to speak at the first hearing, all opposed to ANY tax increase at all. These speakers were representing either the Ellis County Republican Party, whose chairman was one of those speaking in opposition to the tax increase, along with representatives of the Ellis County Tea Party, also in opposition.

Two county employees spoke in favor of the tax increase. Surprise, surprise, surprise!

One attorney for the county seemed to lament about how adjacent Johnson County, with about the same population as Ellis County, had more county attorneys and a higher tax rate than did we. Perhaps the taxpayers of our county would be better served if his kind went over to Johnson County seeking employment…

The “official notice” also failed to give the time of the second public hearing scheduled for Wednesday, Sept. 21. Take a guess; it will be on one of the 24 hours contained within that day (sounds like public input might not be appreciated).

Also misleading is the mention of 3.719985 percent as the expected tax revenue increase, as if that were the tax increase percentage, when the 5 percent plus is the actual amount to be increased on our tax bill. The lower percentage might be interesting, however, possibly indicating someone on the tax rolls won’t be paying…or will be paying a lesser percentage.

Perhaps the untold story there might be the ever-continuing tax abatements being handed out to whoever comes into the court with their hand held out. Whatever the case, it is becoming clear the court is including those people, their own bureaucracy, entities like the North Central Texas Council of Government, and just about anyone else ahead of We the People of Ellis County. Let your voice be heard on whether you want your county taxes raised, hard cuts made in county spending, or anything else. The Wednesday, Sept. 21 hearing will either be at 10 a.m. or 6 p.m. Find out and show up. Otherwise, your county taxes are going up 5 percent plus. They may go up anyway, but you will have been heard.

Incidentally, we can be heard yet again at the ballot box during the Primary Elections next March and again during the General Election in November 2012. Those “Republicans,” perhaps as RINO* as it gets, have to win at the voting booth…and a knowledge of their voting habits should always be a consideration by “We the People” when we enter that booth.

The Texas Republican Party Platform stands for less taxes and smaller government, as do most people who vote on that ticket. Commissioners Court, turn around, you’re going the wrong way on this one. May God bless.

*RINO Republican In Name Only

Editor’s note: The Commissioners Court will hold the public tax increase hearing Wednesday, Sept. 21 at 10 a.m.

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