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  • Last modified 15 days ago (July 14, 2021)

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No horsing around:
Be a responsible cat

Sad to say, but a certain editorial writer, who self-defensively remains nameless, prides himself on knowing useless facts like lyrics to obscure themes from the ’60s.

“A horse is a horse, of course, of course, and no one can talk to a horse, of course … .”

Drop by to hear the rest. Or better yet, stream an old “Mr. Ed” episode on Tubi, even if Tubi’s version, unlike YouTube’s, skips a few verses. (“People go yakety-yak a streak and waste your time of day….”)

You don’t have to be a Dr. Dolittle, of course, to have conversations with animals. During pandemic cloistering, Friend Mother taught Grand-kitty Agate to regularly converse via moans and groans uttered while perched staring into Friend Mother’s face, and tapping her on the arm with one paw, from six inches away atop a recliner’s arm rest.

The conversation most definitely was not an Algonquin Roundtable. It focused mainly on the need for ear scratching and extra helpings of Sheba beef pate. But it was every bit as sensible as a lot of the talk you’ll hear in various coffee klatches in coming weeks about governments supposedly holding the line on spending.

Those conservations will, in fact, be a great test, especially for conservatives — who, despite what they might say, we count ourselves among.

Conservatives constantly talk about limiting government spending. The question this year is whether that’s what they really want or whether all they’re concerned about is the size of tax bills they get in the mail.

Marion County and many of its townships and school districts face an unprecedented opportunity this year. With appraised values rising because of elimination of a 10-year tax exemption on a major pipeline, they can generate as much as 14% more tax revenue without increasing tax rates charged to individuals.

Even areas without pipeline rights-of-way are benefiting, especially from rising sales tax attributable to more mail-order purchases and from rising municipal utility bills, which then further add to sales tax increases. Those are still dollars they’re collecting from taxpayers. They just don’t come on a single once-a-year bill.

True conservatives shouldn’t accept claims about not increasing the size of government merely because the rate for one tax — that on property — remains the same.

Government will get far more money this year than it got from the same tax rates last year, and property tax is only one of the ways government gets local taxpayers’ money. It accounts, for example, for less than half the taxes and profits cities collect from local taxpayers.

That’s not to say that we might not want to take advantage of this year’s opportunity to spend more and use newfound extra revenue to pay for extra projects we couldn’t afford in the past. We just need to avoid letting bureaucrats use the windfall to feather already plush nests with extravagant and unjustified raises and purchases.

Every government entity planning to spend more local taxpayer money, even if tax rates stay the same, ought to be required to clearly spell out exactly what new, extra projects are being undertaken.

We shouldn’t let them hide behind a claim that not increasing tax rates means limiting growth of government. They need to specify exactly what any extra money will pay for — and reassure voters who don’t get constantly rising salaries, constantly shrinking workweeks, and constantly expanding arrays of equipment to work with that the newfound money was well-spent.

It’ll be hard for most of us to wade through all the numbers and bureaucratese they hurl at us and figure out exactly where the extra money has gone. But it will be a good test for those who call themselves conservatives to try instead of rolling over and accepting bureaucratic bloat because tax rates haven’t increased.

Such behavior most assuredly would merit a serious hiss from Agate and a bellowed “nay” from Mr. Ed. And there you have it from the horse’s mouth — or, at least, the opposite end of its anatomy.

— ERIC MEYER

Last modified July 14, 2021

 

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