by Ashley Murphy
There's a lot I don't understand about government. Actually, it would probably be more accurate to say that based on everything I've seen in my 28 years, I don't understand government at all. About the only thing I do understand is that they are real good at wasting - I mean spending - other people's money.
We already know how the national government works. Raising our debt ceiling into the trillions of dollars, sending our money overseas to countries that would rather see us burn, paying for multi-million dollar vacations for the President and his brood. The national government is a disaster, that's been proven. But I expected a little more from the small town governments.
When I started this job a little over 5 years ago, one responsibility was to go to our local government meetings and let the public know what was going on in their community. If you care about how your local tax dollars are being spent, then I'd definitely start keeping up with what's going on around here.
Squabbles. Fights. Arguments. Back and forth banter. The exchanges between the Cleveland City Council and the Bradley County Commission have gotten to be, the only way I can describe, ridiculous. You'd think they're 2 parties in a huge lawsuit over a monetary inheritance. But I honestly believe they don't see this money they're fighting over as the people's money, I truly believe they see it as THEIR money.
No! It is not yours to demand and is not yours for the taking to do with as you please. This is the people's money, mostly taxes, collected inside city AND county limits by the residents, friends and family of residents of this town, and occasionally, people passing through. It is meant as a way for people to help this government keep the town afloat and make it safe and livable for everyone who resides here.
The latest debacle, and certainly not the first, is more arguing over, you guessed it, money. Now, I haven't read every single law this town has passed (although, maybe I should) so I don't know the entire story. All I know is that two government bodies in the same town are arguing over my hard earned money.
As we all know, alcohol is taxed, and since Liquor by the Drink came to Cleveland, it has a separate tax on it's own. All liquor is taxed and that tax is paid to the local government. Apparently, this tax has been accumulating over the last 10 years since implemented and is somewhere around 3/4 of a million dollars. The City is claiming they have all the rights to this money. It's theirs to do with as they please. If that's the case and there's a line in that tax law saying this is so, I believe that line needs to be changed, and quick. Just as this isn't the first time squabbling has taken place over money, this isn't the first time the city has tried to say that the total monetary amount belongs to them.
Unless it's school systems, police bodies or another entity specific to a particular side of the government, then a way needs to be found to split this money accordingly. Our entire county is Bradley, but only a portion of this county is the City of Cleveland. It amazes me how government bodies can be so selfish with things that were never theirs to begin with. A particular "Manager" position being the one claim these entitlements.
Maybe I am being a bit biased, but I'm sick and tired of watching these "leaders" play ruler with my money. It's not yours, so suck it up buttercup and learn to share. I get that some of these projects are to better this town, but put the brakes on for a minute and check your budget before throwing out money you don't even have, then try to demand you have full rights to what money is left in this community so you can self-serve yourself some more.
A county commission candidate agrees with the need to end the bickering and he's calling for a public vote on how the money should be spent. It's our money and if our leader's can't grow up and pull their heads out of...the clouds, then I guess it does need to be left up to us on how to divide our money between two bickering government bodies. I know that putting it to a referendum and having a vote costs money, too. But good grief people, it's got to be better than sitting here watching all this back and forth with the City crying, "Gimmee, gimmee, gimmee!"
Maybe I don't know a lot about what's going on, so chastise me if you wish, but you got my two cents anyway. I'm just tired of paying out my hard-earned money only to have people fight over it as if they were the ones to earn it themselves.
It's called priorities. This town, its people and its livelihood are the priorities, not yourself and your projects. Start there.