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The editorial on 1/17/2013 titled “Build a Bridge, cross a border” caught my attention. While you see the prospect of home rule as non-existent for this community, I see a distinct likelihood this community will soon adopt home rule to break down those “borders,” eliminate the barriers to cooperation and leadership potential, and build the necessary bridges to a economically viable and vibrant community.
SUN editorials often point out and define issues, but rarely assert preferred meritorious actions to overcome those issues. So it was last week; the “border” was outlined in great detail, but the bridge was not even sketched out. Using that worthless word of moral imperative “should” simply does not get it. Rather it was presented in a rather patronizing way; scolding town officials to listen better. This community needs substance, not feel good rhetoric.
There are several reasons this community needs to become a unified municipal/county home rule entity: 1) The town is already home rule, which has proved to be a major disadvantage to the county in dealing with the town — this is the most serious issue under the present jurisdictional stand-off; a) the town has usurped its authority regarding annexation to secure the lion’s share of sales tax revenue while making sure they did not take on responsibility for roads and other governmental costs; b) state law mandates municipal/county agreements within three miles of municipal limits, which neither the county or town have adhered to; c) lack of expertise, scattered and confused leadership have disrupted every attempt at a cohesive long-range approach to economic development, community development and land use development; 2) The overlap in services is resulting in excessive costs to local taxpayers and causing jurisdictional conflicts that compromise the health, safety and welfare; 3) County statutory powers were designed for rural agriculture economies — not urbanized mountain recreational communities; and 4) Elected offices only assure the most popular person for that office is chosen — it has nothing to do with the professionalism that person brings to the office. To make sure the best people are serving the public interest, we have to change the status quo — home rule allows this community to devise the best mix of appointed and elective offices.
The process toward home rule is bottom-up. It is transparent at every stage, and it assures that it is collaborative. It is the preferable process and end result if this community is to have its best chance to get past its foibles and on to bigger and better things.
Rodney B. Proffitt