By GEOFF DAVIDIAN
Putnam Pit editor
COOKEVILLE, Tenn. (July 12,2003) -- As the Cookeville City Council prepares to vote Thursday on a whopping property tax increase, I feel the need to take the lead in my own household and set my own budget priorities to see where I can cut my own fat. Man, it is tough when crisis is everywhere.
For example, my veterinarian wants me to upgrade from the
$16-a-month itch repellant drops to the $17-a-month product that will protect
my dog not only from those pesky fleas but also from mosquitoes carrying
I donít want my dog to die, do I? After all, if I already pay $16 a month to keep the boy flea- and itch-free, why not an extra dollar to keep him alive? But I let the canine run free at a dog park in the woods, where he is more likely to pick up fleas, ticks and mosquitoes than if I kept him home. So I feel I must protect him.
This is my problem, but I could easily make it my dogís problem by simply cutting back on his food to retain money needed to pay for the medicine he needs to protect him from the danger I place him in by letting him run wild.
Likewise, my family already pays property taxes. Why not add a few cents to provide a really important service we canít live without although the behavior of the government puts us at unnecessary risk?
No question that life-and-death emergencies arise and they must be addressed.
Indeed, a dollar a month is a reasonable investment to keep my $600 dog alive. The question I am wrestling with is this: Why does it cost just a dollar a month to keep my dog free from West Nile Virus but $16 to keep the fleas away? I can wash my dog myself and save the $16, but swatting disease-carrying mosquitoes away is beyond my ability.
When there is plenty of money, Iíll pay for flea treatment. When times are tough, I wash the dog myself.
By the same token, why do the essential services
After all, government is the institution that does the stuff we need someone else to do Ė like maintain the roadways and keep order; bring law to bear on chaos and keep dangerous psychos off the streets.
What are essential municipal services? Public safety and public works would be two. Garbage collection, clean water and sewage would be others.
For public officials like, say, Mayor Charles Womack or Councilman Sam Salle, who have a responsibility to serve the public by virtue of their offices, the question is: when serious problems arise, how can they exert leadership over a corrupt, tired and incompetent government apparatus to increase production, cut waste and reduce cost? Isnít that why we elect a governing body?
If they are not doing this, why are they in government? For the perks?
There are so many ways to save money that would avert a tax increase: