Procedure, not tax, at issue here

Published 12:00 am Monday, January 19, 2004

I am not writing this letter as President of the Demopolis Area Chamber of Commerce. I do not presume to know how the chamber members feel concerning the additional one cent sales tax issue.

The Chamber office will be contacting its members soon for their input on how they feel concerning the issue.

I will then forward the members’ responses to the appropriate state legislators.

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I am writing this letter only as a concerned citizen.

I was surprised and disappointed at the action taken by our county commissioners recently in regards to their sudden passing of an additional one cent sales tax on our citizens.

I was more than disappointed, I was more borderline incensed, however, at the comment as reported in The Demopolis Times of one of the commissioners. I have a problem with Mr. Armstead’s line of thought that “we knew that if the people were given the chance to vote on the issue they would vote no.”

I don’t doubt that the county commissioners would like to have more money to do worthy projects that need to be done.

The same can be said with city government.

The same can be said with state government.

The same can be said with the federal government.

Why, the same could be said with every household.

Each and every one of us would like to have more money to do projects that are truly worthy.

In a pure democracy (which exists almost nowhere) the people are given a direct say, every time, in how things are to be governed and how monies are to be spent.

In the United States, we have set up most of our governments to be a representative constitutional government and not a pure democracy.

The idea is that we elect officials that are to go and represent our will and vote in our stead, for it is not possible for the citizens to vote on every issue every time. But the premise of the representative government is that it is in touch with the will of the people.

Even under this form of government it is very customary to have the citizens vote to approve plans of a governmental recommendation.

I appreciate Mr. Armstead’s effort in trying to show leadership.

Taking a stand for what might be unpopular because of your convictions takes backbone. Let it not be said that Mr. Armstead does not have backbone.

This is admirable.

However, to tell the citizens of Marengo County that you don’t want to hear from them in a public forum and that you don’t want input from them because you already know what is best for them is not as admirable.

Give the people forums in which to voice their opinions.

Give consideration to their opinions.

When it involves their pocketbooks, giving them the final say in voting yes or no, as is so often done, is a good way to go.

I think a governmental agency should spell out clearly why they need more money from the citizens and I think they should spell out clearly how the money will be spent.

Then, whenever possible, let the citizens, who will be both the ones paying the money and receiving the benefit of the proposals, weigh the cost benefit factor and decide by way of their vote if they want it.

If the vote comes out positive, then proceed.

If it comes out negative, then there should not be any complaints from the citizens for the projects not getting done.

Our county commissioners are challenged to try and do a lot with limited resources.

My problem is not that they are not doing a good job.

I think they are doing a good job.

No, my sole problem is that I do not agree with them in not letting the people of Marengo County vote on the issue of the proposed increase in the sales tax.