Take part in

Published 12:00 am Saturday, February 22, 2003

county government

Pike County Commission members return to the table Monday to discuss two key issues: solid waste collection and fees and the renewal of a 1-cent sales tax.

The sales tax issue is likely to take precedence, with commissioners seeking to draft a legislative resolution to put the tax renewal on a county-wide ballot again. This time, commissioners hope to alter the distribution of that revenue with 25 percent funding depleted county coffers and 75 percent funding education.

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It's a delicate subject. For years, Alabamians have struggled with a serious and on-going lack of funding for education. And commissioners, who have long cited a need for additional funding sources, admittedly have a serious campaign ahead to build public confidence in the reallocation.

But the solid waste issue is no less important, if admittedly less glamorous. Commissioners are considering new bids for garbage collection. Some are even considering the privatization of solid waste collection. It's a costly proposal, either way they go. The county is losing money now, in part due to an inability to enforce collection fees on taxpayers, who ultimately receive the service.

And the reality is, Pike County residents need to be engaged in both these issues. Only about five members of the public turned out for the commission's special work session last week, when members met with school board leaders in an attempt to build support for the tax renewal proposal. That's a disappointing turnout, considering the broad impact of this discussion.

This debate is only in its infancy, and residents still have time to share their input … at Monday's commission meeting and by contacting either education leaders or county commissioners.

Commissioners will hold a public hearing at 4 p.m. on March 17 to hear input on the solid waste issue. As taxpayers, we should take advantage of the opportunity to have our voices heard and to help shape the decisions of our governing bodies.

After all, that's the premise of the democracy we cherish.

So, as the county commission faces these two difficult issues, ask questions; speak up; become engaged.

The participation will help us all.