01/13/09 — Your vote ... lost? Commissioners association wants ultimate veto power

View Archive

Your vote ... lost? Commissioners association wants ultimate veto power

It might have slipped by you -- especially if you are trying to focus your attention on the public checkbook and who is next at the bailout trough.

These days, that is a full-time job.

In fact, there are many people who might not even have realized what they were reading when they saw that the North Carolina Association of County Commissioners was discussing increased powers for county officials with regard to taxation.

The proposal the association will take up this week would give commissioners the right to enact a tax increase of some sort -- even if county residents reject the notion.

There is some basis in concern for the community behind this proposal. Budgets must be balanced -- and if there is no more to cut and the expenses are still there, the money has to come from somewhere. Voters don't always understand that sometimes increasing taxes is inevitable.

But the deeper principle behind the proposal is what should concern state residents and make them keep a close eye on this week's decision and any subsequent discussion of the idea in the state legislature.

The U.S. system of checks and balances in government was set up this way for a reason. The idea, of course, is that no one would have absolute power to do anything that would affect the life, liberty or pursuit of happiness of any citizen.

And it allows us to keep an eye on the people we elect to represent us in the statehouse -- some of whom end up forgetting just whom they are there to serve.

Removing the power of the vote of the people -- or even degrading it -- is a slippery slope and could lead to all sorts of mischief with regard to spending taxpayers' hard-earned funds.

Of course, in the end, voters have the ultimate control -- they can vote out anyone who puts a checkmark next to this proposal. But that doesn't mean we shouldn't make our feelings known, now.

In the near future, it is going to be increasingly important that taxpayers keep track of who does what with their money.

After all, there is only so much bailout money available.

Handing what is in essence a blank check to a local lawmaker -- and setting a precedent for state governments as well -- is exactly the opposite of what we want now if we are going to keep any money in our wallets.

So add this latest wrinkle to your "pay attention" list.

Published in Editorials on January 13, 2009 10:35 AM