Sometimes all the naysayers and name-callers just flat out make me want to scream.
At the top of my lungs.
For all the world to hear.
You know who I’m talking about. The people who think it’s cute to make fun of people or ridicule them.
They are happiest when they are surrounded by those who aren’t happy.
They like to stir the pot just to watch it boil and tear things down just to watch them crumble.
They think the following are the rules and not the exceptions:
• the government is evil and out to get you.
• elected officials are crooked and will swindle the public out of every dime they can.
And while nobody likes to pay taxes, they really, really — I mean really — don’t like paying taxes. Any kind of taxes. Of course, the way I see it, this means that they don’t value good public roads, schools or parks.
Anyway, though I said in the opening sentence of this column that sometimes these folks chap my rear end, most of the time I just ignore them.
Because I know that a lot of folks — most of them, actually — don’t pay a lot of attention to people that want to undo the good that’s been done, neglect that which needs attention, preach about the way things used to be and settle for good enough.
So, you may ask, why am I wasting ink on them this week?
Well... you may have heard that there is an important issue on the April 2 ballot. It involves one of the most critical aspects of modern living — our transportation system.
We Americans love our cars and here in PlatteCounty we may love them even more than some other folks in other parts of the KC metro area. That’s because we have hundreds and hundreds of miles of roads that separate us in our County.
Many of our children ride buses across countless miles of public roadways each day to get to school. Our fire trucks and police cars and ambulances log hundreds of miles each day on our roads responding to emergencies. We count on good roads to get us to our jobs and grocery stores and post offices and relatives’ houses. Good roads are vital to our quality of life.
Ten years ago, PlatteCounty was primed for growth. One of the main economic engines it lacked was a transportation system befitting a top-notch County. And I’m not talking about good enough roads, but nice asphalted roads and sound bridges.
So, the Platte County Commission of Betty Knight, Michael Short and Steve Wegner devised a Roads Master Plan. And to fund this plan, which called for tens of millions of dollars of improvements to County roads and bridges, the Commission placed a three-eighths cent tax issue on the April 2003 ballot. More than 58 percent of registered County voters who went to the polls that day supported the measure.
Pay attention, now, because I’m going to cover the next 10 years pretty quick. It goes like this: $51 million worth of new bridges, roads and other transportation improvements were made, including a major renovation of the Barry Road/I-29 intersection, which was a major factor in sparking a period of growth not seen in PlatteCounty’s history.
Now, with the roads tax set to expire later this year, our County officials — most of them anyway — say that the job is not finished and there is a real need for the roads tax to be renewed. More than one-fourth of the County’s bridges are still in dire need of replacement or rehabilitation. Many of our County roads are still choked with gravel dust and dangerous sightlines.
That is what I was referring to last week in this space when I said that not renewing the roads tax would be like roofing one half of your house. It would also be like never putting a new coat of paint on that house after you spent all the time and money to remodel it.
So, back to the naysayers and the don’t-want-to-doers and why I’m giving them the time of day in this space.
If you haven’t already, you are probably going to receive a postcard or flyer in your mailbox or tucked under your windshield wiper on your car from these folks, who act like formula is being stolen from their babies when it comes to an extra 38 cents on a $100 purchase but don’t mind coughing up dough to protest making our County better. Our roads are good enough, it will say.
It will call Platte County Commissioners Beverlee Roper and Duane Soper, who realized before they were even elected in November that placing the roads tax renewal on the April ballot for the people to vote on was the right thing to do, catchy little names.
It will tell you that the County’s sales tax is too high, but will fail to explain that the reason it is higher than some is because PlatteCounty’s property tax levy is a ridiculous one cent.
It may even warn you that the County is planning another tax issue in August to pay for the federally-mandated $11 million radio system upgrade that previous CountyCommissions have neglected for eight years while lowering said property tax levy. Had prior CountyCommissions merely kept the property tax levy at its 2006 level — a paltry four cents — the radio issue would be a moot point.
It would also be a moot point had the County been able to use the millions of dollars in use tax generated by roads tax-funded projects the past 10 years to pay for the radios. But those funds had to be used for general purposes in large part because of —you guessed it — that one-cent levy that previous Commissions patted themselves on the back about.
I know you folks are too smart to fall for that stuff, so you have nothing to prove to me.
But a renewed roads tax would prove to the naysayers who want to halt progress that we won’t settle for good enough.
Then we can go back to ignoring them.
Thanks for reading.Lee Stubbs is owner/editor of The Citizen. He may be reached by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org. com or by calling 858-5154. Follow him on Twitter @leejstubbs.