Friday, December 15, 2006

The mess with the growth of local governments

This week, in Saluda and Newberry counties, gyms were packed with residents fed up with reassessments that in some cases tripled their property taxes. While there is a state law that prevents so called "windfalls" from reassessment, there are still many property owners, especially around Lake Murray who are being hit with big tax increases.

Saluda County, according to an article in The State, is moving to not use the new assessment values for this years tax bills. The article in The State contends that could lead tax bills in Saluda County to not be issued until the Spring of 2007.

Some Newberry residents are considering boycotting the current tax bills and paying taxes at last years level.

The anger and the quandary the county governments of Saluda and Newberry are in, to me, are a result of something that has been going on all over the state. While efforts are made to cut federal and state taxes, local governments have continued to grow and grow. So called conservatives are elected to office, only to turn into tax and spenders once in office.

If you doubt that, take a look at Lexington County. This past year, Lexington County council passed a tax increase. Now, with that "not enough," Lexington County is looking to add a $25 per automobile fee and Sheriff Jim Metts is looking for a tax increase to increase his department's budget. Lexington County Council is dominated by Republicans. Lexington is perhaps the most Republican county in the state. Sheriff Metts is a Republican. Yet, those conservative Republicans are advocating for bigger and more expensive government.

How did it happen. I believe there are several factors at work. First, county governments have gotten away from their primary mission: provide essential services such as public safety, basic infrastructure, proper record keeping and the like. Things that are labeled under "quality of life" are being funded. Those things are museums, arts council funding, high priced consultants for this and that and so forth.

Second, the county governments are off track because of the apparent heavy reliance of local elected officials upon professional county employees, such as managers and directors. Those so called professional county employees are products of government. They are trained to get more money for their area of responsibility. There is simply do degree program in things like public administration out there that trains professional government employees to do more with less, or realize that their jobs and area is not essential and should be paid for by the taxpayers. More and more county council members in the Midlands and around the state just do not want to do their homework, and let the bureaucrats do it for them. No bureaucrat is going to stand up and say, "this program is not essential." It is just is not going to happen.

The third thing at work allows for the second thing to happen. Too many voters just don't pay attention to local government. Of course, those with the big tax bills in Newberry and Saluda now are, but most do not. Most people can name the President, a like number could name their US Senators or the Governor, but ask them who their county council member is, and the numbers of those who know plummets. The people and the media just don't pay proper attention to county and other local governments, and that has allowed the bureaucrats a safe haven to create big government at the local level in one of the most conservative states in the union.

Hopefully, the protests in Newberry and Saluda will be start of a change. Hopefully the angers those residents feel now will go on until the next election. Hopefully when those folks will vote for candidates who will bring limited and less expensive local and county government, not for someone whose daddy they knew or whose cousin they fish with.

If not, then the irony of the one of the most conservative states in the union having some of the fastest growing local governments will continue.


  1. It has been said that you get the government that you deserve. We broke from the crown over increasing taxes that were bound to fund the squnderings of a mad Hanoverian "benevolent despot" that ought well to be, for the regional idiom likened to the "Massa" on the plantation. We come to "Pork" and "Barrel" crapping in the State House as a move to point out the need for austerity, rather than earmarks for the frivolities of legislative largesse, meet ridicule from a complicitious press that considers it to be job security to fan the flames of "Republican" conflict.

    SC has had its own bloody periods of rebellion over revneue enhancement schemes, from the Revolution to the state dispensary, yet like most of our young scholars, what trite sanitized pieces of SC history are taught are quickly rejected after the exam.

    For the blogger, the history that we collectively never learned will be repeated and fuel blogs and swell the bitstream.

    To a short term solution, stupid people shouldn't vote if they have no doggone idea what the issues are or who the candidates are or where they stand. Unfortunately, legislating from the bench, the courts have said that is not to be allowed and neither executive nor legislative branches has had the knowlege or cajones to direct the judiciary to go pound sand.

  2. Let me get this, some white folks, aka crackers, don't want to pay their fair share for government services, so they get pissed?

    Come one. Pay up crackers. After all you have taken from the people you ought to give some back. Their ain't no brothers living on the lake. Pay up crackers, and shut the hell up.

    We are getting tired of you not paying your fair share.

    Ty...yes....Ty, I ain't dead you crackers, I am still here.

  3. Ty, I think I remember you from prison. Do you still wear women's clothing? I remember you bitch.

  4. Ty might be your bitch, but he has a point. How are we going to pay for government services without needed tax increases? McCarty lives in a dreamworld. He and his type want lower taxes but at what cost?

  5. I have to concur. Where are the people going to get the money for essential services? And you scoff at thinks like musuems and the arts, but those things ARE ESSENTIAL for quality of life for the people who work and live under our good graces.

    Our degrees tell us how the plan, and sorry, but those plans call for some sacrafice from the fat and rich.

    We county managers know what is needed, we are on the job everyday. We don't need some neer do well like you to tell us what to do.


  6. Essential services are one thing, bread and circuses to occupy the masses are another. Take Joe Riley's Spoleto Festival, please. The thousands that havce underwritten it could well have been spent building up Maryville or Wagner Terrace or the East Side in Charleston, all minority neighborhoods, suckered into re-electing a qualifiable "cracker" Democrat Joe Riley.

    Ty, realizing that you're not really open to logical argument, I know thta it would be futile to offer that the "crackers" that bear the burden of paying for your essential services don't mind paying a fair share, though that share tends to go well past fair. I can hear it now, a Juan labelling you Ty, with the same broad "cracker" title, 'cause you begin to feel the drain on your government services and don't wanna pay enough to cover the cost of the illegals services.

  7. Joey, we have endowments and gifts to institutions like museums and to the arts that come from the "fat and rich" without being diluted by political hacks and the upkeep of bureaucrats that oft push agendas into the use of those funds.

    I'll grant that youth, inexperience and nihiliscence color your words, but take back all of the largesse of the "fat and rich" to the humanities that you embrace and those institutions would be on life support, based on the manditory charity enforced by the "stewards" of my earnings. Thoreau had a few notions about that.

  8. Joey, what kind of degree do you need to be a county manager? Is it a Master of Bureaucracy or a real Masters of Business Admin that is useful in real commerce?