Letter to the Editor: County should think before taking New Leash funds away

To the Editor:
Oct 19, 2013

To the Editor:

My concern is almost overwhelming when I think of the action that our county commission will be taking Monday night concerning the overthrow of a referendum held in 1980. Do the citizens’ opinions no longer matter? I can’t imagine a commissioner voting against the wishes of the people.

I witnessed shenanigans when I served 12 years on the board of commissioners, but none of this magnitude. A referendum is democracy in action. How can the powers that be take that away? Scary, isn’t it? Regardless of the issue, I feel democracy is being eroded with this type of action.

The issue is the two resolutions concerning the domestic animal tax. One resolution dissolves the $2 animal tax passed by the people’s referendum in 1980 to be used by WCHA (New Leash on Life). Another resolution would then allow the commissioners to implement a $5 tax for the county government to use for their animal control. Two committees have already unanimously approved these resolutions.

The revenue of approximately $35,000 annually generated by current tax and used by New Leash on Life has been such a blessing. Well more than 50,000 dogs and cats have been altered through the spay/neuter program. Numerous litters have been prevented by this type of animal control. The small shelter is almost always full to capacity, yet the staff works with both the city and county animal control.

I have nothing but respect for Wilson County Animal Control and the employees are great. I admire Mayor Randall Hutto for creating such a good department. But we just cannot exchange our democratic process for funds for a county department. Also, I simply cannot understand how the modest amount of money voted for New Leash on Life could make a difference in the county’s multi-million dollar budget.

I view the commissioners’ actions as entirely inappropriate. Why can’t the resolution be amended to include $2 for New Leash on Life from the $5 amount requested for the county? Would this not satisfy the vote of the people? This would not compromise principles but would be an agreement from two entities which both serve the citizens of the county well.

I respectfully ask the commissioners to pull these resolutions as has been done once before and not defy our democracy. However, I do ask The Lebanon Democrat to post the vote of the commissioners if a vote is taken; it will be interesting to see the appreciation or lack of appreciation he/she has for a public referendum which has shown the wishes of their constituency.

Time moves on but fairness remains a virtue of strong character which we hope we have in our county commissioners. Think before you vote.

Joy Bishop 

former county commissioner

Lebanon

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