Road maintenance does not warrant a tax increase

Published: Saturday, January 8, 2005 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Friday, January 7, 2005 at 10:57 p.m.
According to The Gainesville Sun, one of the brutal facts of local government is that "maintaining public roadways is a fundamental responsibility," and that roads are a "multibillion dollar investment" that the commissioners have a "fiduciary responsibility to protect."
But on Dec. 5, The Sun said that because "roads aren't going to maintain themselves," the County Commission must "either raise taxes or cut deeply into other services in order to divert funding to roads."
Divert funding to roads? You have to be kidding.
The brutal fact is that the well-documented backlog of tens of millions of dollars of road projects exists because the city and county commissions have systematically diverted funds from roads to pet projects for almost a decade. The roads crisis, to the extent that there is one, constitutes political malpractice, not a lack of funding.
Since it is indisputable that maintaining public roadways is a fundamental responsibility of county government, roads should be the priority for government's first dollars, not its last dollars.
Tax increases should be reserved for true emergencies or extraordinary expenditures, not for the government's equivalent of the mortgage payment.
There is no justification for burdening the taxpayers further, especially since we just said no twice in November to new taxes.
Roger Austin, Gainesville

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