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Penny tax for cop raises is a good idea
Theft from vehicle graphic
The proposal would add a penny sales tax on each dollar spent. - photo by Stock photo

Like many people I know this side of jail, I’m a fan of good law enforcement.

Not over-the-top-in-your-face-martial law, but responsible, fair and professional law enforcement.

The kind that follows the same rules it sets for you, treats everyone fairly regardless of their skin color or finances, but let’s you sleep at night knowing some clown’s not going to make a regular habit of driving by at 2 a.m. and knocking down your mailbox with a baseball bat, or worse.

That said, like most folks I know who have to pay them, I’m no fan of taxes.

However. If paying a penny more a dollar when I go to the store can help local law enforcement officers make a better living, then I’m all for it. And if it can help local law enforcement officers stay in the community they live in, that’s even better.

That’s why the idea the Georgia Sheriffs’ Association is touting for a penny sales tax to bolster salaries for county deputies and municipal cops is worth serious consideration.

Not being in charge of anything and thus not responsible for the consequences if the idea turned out to be a bad one, I’d naturally go even farther.

While the GSA’s proposal is, I believe, cop only and in response to the 20-percent pay raise Gov. Nathan Deal is giving to state law enforcement officers, I’d include first responders in the mix - meaning firefighters, paramedics and EMTs.

Not because they’re liable to go take a job as a state trooper for better pay, but because the folks who respond to car crashes and house fires in the middle of the night deserve to be paid better than $12 an hour, or whatever it is they make these days.

And whatever it is, it’s not enough. I’ve been on ridealongs with paramedics and EMTs. They’re essentially combat medics, only funnier.

Besides, if you want the person in charge of making sure your heart gets jump started on the way to the hospital if it suddenly decides to quit making $11.50 an hour, that’s on you.

Me, I want folks who aren’t worrying about paying the rent in charge of the jumper cables.

Now, I do get where critics of the proposal are coming from. Government doesn’t exactly have a great track record when it comes to managing the money it already gets, so why give it more?

Valid point. Depends on what the more is for, and where it comes from.

I just know I can’t afford to pay more property taxes, but I won’t mind seeing another penny on a dollar if helps a local cop or deputy or paramedic or firefighter make a good living .

And at the end of the day, this isn’t a giveaway of tax money.

We’re getting something in return.

Onward:

Speaking of sales taxes, TSPLOST, or the ill-fated penny sales tax for transportation, could be making a comeback.

The measure failed in 2012 in our region, but apparently state lawmakers are working on a bill that could allow individual counties to put the matter on the ballot for their voters to decide.

If it gets to the ballot and voter say yes, the money would stay in that county and pay for local transportation projects.

It could happen here. The transportation sales tax passed in both Liberty and Long in 2012, but had to win the support of a majority of voters in our 11-county region and that didn’t happen, so it failed.

I was one of those who voted against it. My opposition to the measure was two-fold, and I’m still inclined to vote against a TSPLOST today.

For starters, new roads don’t solve existing traffic problems for long. They instead tend to generate more development, which leads to more traffic, which creates more problems. It’s great if you’re invested in asphalt or fuel, but the rest of us get gridlock and road rage.

The second is that the state should have long ago assessed a hefty impact fee on development which would’ve helped pay for infrastructure. Those impact fees should’ve been augmented by similar fees at the local level, as well.

The argument against such fees has been that the cost of new construction would’ve been passed on to consumers. Well, that’s kind of the point.

I also don’t like the idea of transportation money being spent solely on roads.

We need to look at mass transit, greenways and other paths to get from point A to point B before it all turns to concrete and our kids need bypasses to bypass the bypasses.

Whitten is managing editor of the Coastal Courier and Bryan County News.

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