Thursday, October 11, 2007

Harbison is Right, Hunton and Helder Wrong

Washington County Judge Jerry Hunton is proposing to raise road millage property taxes by 170% to replace four rural bridges on county roads, with the cost estimated at $7.4 million. Justice of the Peace Ann Harbison thinks that unwise when the county is sitting on $14 million in a reserve fund from previous excess tax collections that could be used for capital projects. She is right fiscally as well as politically when considering the likelihood of voters approving a tax increase for those bridges.

Washington County Sheriff Tim Helder is also off the mark in requesting a sales tax increase to expand the county jail and more money to build a firing range. Helder found enough money in his current budget to send several deputies off to Boston for 287(g) program training in immigration enforcement by Homeland Security officials who can't even adequately train their own agents, and he knows that this optional new program could also add considerably to budget woes and inmate population if the county attempts to pick up the tab for the Bush administration's failure to stop illegal immigration.

If Sheriff Helder needs more jail space, I'm sure that the City of Fayetteville would make him a good deal on the old Tyson's Mexican Original building on Huntsville Road, which they paid too much for and have now discovered no one knows what to do with it. The County's reserve fund could be used for that project as well.

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