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Brunswick County commissioners, we don’t envy your positions right now.
Like many government entities, you’re being pulled in several directions, and the funding requests just keep coming.
To make those matters worse, most often the solutions that must be found meet with public ire—cutting programs or positions or raising taxes.
Ouch. To many taxes is a dirty, dirty word.
It’s particularly difficult to stomach the thought of potential increases in a community where the unemployment rate tends to be 10 percent or higher and where many families are upside down in their homes because the housing market dropped after homes were purchased at pre-market bubble rates.
Recently, an independent consultant group told you that on average county employees’ salaries are about 8 percent less than those in comparable markets.
That means those who are fortunate enough at finding work may be struggling to keep afloat.
The consultants have made a number of suggestions for you to consider. None of those, however, come without the county having to dig into its coffers to come up with a solution that somehow fairly raises county employee salaries.
But how do you justify pay increases, especially at rates at or near 8 percent, when many of the taxpayers who fund the county’s tax base, are workers who may have not had any pay increases at all at their jobs that help provide these funds?
You’re also talking about changing the way fire fees are assessed, and doing so again conjures up that dirty word, the change from a fire fee to a potential fire tax.
The reality is people are going to squirm, and then likely complain—loudly—if the only way you can achieve these changes is to cause individuals to pay more in county taxes.
What do you do?
We encourage you to host as many public forums about potential changes as you can.
We know there is often low turnout at government meetings. It’s a mix of apathy and other factors.
For some, especially those currently unemployed, it can be a big trip—and a big expense—to come up with fuel and transportation to the county complex in Bolivia.
How about bringing county government to the people?
This would be a great way to get community feedback as you tackle the budget for the new fiscal year.
Set up meetings in communities throughout Brunswick County. Give people a better chance to get to you. Hear what they have to say and then do what you have to do that’s in the best interest of all of Brunswick County.