Saturday, October 18, 2008

The Era of Benton County Freeloading is Over

Prosperous Benton County has been getting a free ride for essential public services at the expense of their neighbors to the south, but they are about to get a big dose of public responsibility. For all the free enterprise boot strap rhetoric that flows from the business barons and their captive vassals, it would be hard to find a group of freeloaders more experienced at living off the kindness of strangers for free essential services.

For years, the Washington County HIV Clinic has been providing services to Benton County residents, who now comprise 37% of the patients. Benton County has no such public health service and has been freeloading by not making any financial contribution for the cost of services to county residents. Earlier this month, the Benton County Quorum Court Finance Committee finally agreed, by a 4-2 vote, to recommend a one-year grant of $34,000 to the clinic. Whether that gets approved by the full Quorum Court remains to be seen.

The latest squaking is from Benton County communities being asked to pay their fair share of the ambulance service that has been provided for years by the Springdale Fire Department. Lowell Mayor Perry Long, who has plenty of money to buy stagecoaches and spy cameras but stiffed ORT, doesn't like it one bit. He thinks that Springdale, which is experiencing a budget meltdown, should continue providing free ambulance services to prosperous Lowell, and Springdale is only asking for $91,370 a year to continue serving Lowell residents. Bills are also going out to Bethel Heights for $21,916 and to the Benton County Quorum Court for $58,330 to cover the unincorporated areas of Benton County that have also been getting a free ride on the backs of Springdale taxpayers for all these years.


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