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Hartselle Enquirer

Our Opinion

By Staff
The people deserve the right to decide
Imagine, just for a moment, the issue of a property tax increase wasn’t on the agenda. Imagine we weren’t trying to find ways to fund the construction of a new high school. Instead, imagine we were considering a new tax in order to build a domed football stadium.
Organizers of the domed football movement feel it will help the city in the future and would be a boost to the local economy.
The vast majority of the citizens, however, think the idea won’t fly. We’d love to see economic development, people say, but we don’t think we need a domed stadium.
Let the people vote and decide, they say. There’s no way such a plan will pass.
However, in our imaginary world, such matters aren’t subject to a vote of the people. Instead, the city council can opt to pass the plan and send it to the legislative delegation. If the city council’s request asking for the matter is unanimous, it gets a rubber stamp of approval.
In a relatively short period of time, the council and the legislative delegation have approved the tax increase and Hartselle is home to a domed - or doomed - stadium.
Scary, right? We’re glad we don’t live in this imaginary world. What’s keeping us from it is our right to vote on such issues, whether they are domed stadiums or tax increases.
Any plan to increase taxes is not popular. The Enquirer’s own poll shows a property tax increase for a new school will probably fail. However, it is wrong for one councilman to prevent the public from voting on the issue.
Morgan County’s legislative delegation has said the lone hold out means they won’t introduce the matter and therefore are denying the public the right to vote. No matter how you feel about the tax increase, it is imperative that all such issues be decided by the people. They should not be decided by one council member or by past protocol of the Legislative Delegation.
Opponents to the school tax vote say it is a waste of money. Referendums are expensive and what’s the point of holding one if the matter will probably fail. The point is the basis of democracy is the right to vote on issues. The current practice of the Legislative Delegation is preventing the public from having its say on the issue. The overwhelming majority of the council has agreed to ask for the referendum. The council is not levying a tax; members are not even saying they personally support the tax. They are saying they support the public’s right to vote on the issue.
It is a contradiction to serve in an elected post and yet deny the people the right to decide on other issues.
We’re calling on the Legislative Delegation to change this outdated policy and set the date for the school tax referendum.
Or, one day, we might all be enjoying our own domed stadium, one we certainly didn’t vote for.

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