Decisions have consequences

Specht

Do you think before you shop? Do you stay abreast of the happenings in local government? Do you have any idea what your personal impact is on the overall economy and wellbeing of Webster Parish?

WIth little to no fanfare, the Webster Parish Police Jury approved its 2018 budget. Prior to the approval, the Jury held a public hearing for anyone to voice their concerns. No one spoke.

According to a story in Wednesday’s Press-Herald, the budget included almost $42,000 in cuts across eight line items of the general fund budget. These cuts affect everything from parish support of museums and the arts to economic development.

Decisions have consequences.

When financial times are tough, difficult choices must be made. While unfortunate, the Jury made a tough call. While $42,000 doesn’t seem like much in an overall budget of $20 million, escalating mandated expenses don’t seem to be waning anytime soon. The Jury decided to pinch pennies where and when it could.

This cut is on the backs of the jurors who voted for this, right? In the words of Lee Corso, “Not so fast.”

Just a couple of months ago, voters of Webster Parish passed a road tax renewal in the northern part of the parish. However, it took two elections for it to finally be approved. The “no tax” crowd almost won out.
Decisions have consequences.

Each time someone heads out of town, or “clicks” to make a purchase, parish and local municipalities lose sales tax dollars. Those sales tax dollars help fund the very things we have come to expect.

Decisions have consequences.

Notwithstanding, the parish has also been strained with recovery efforts from the floods of 2016, where roads throughout the parish were excessively damaged. Though many think the federal government is the “cavalry” in such situations, that simply isn’t true on a consistent basis. In fact, the parish is still going round and round with FEMA to repair that which should fall under their purview.

Resolution of this may never come, meaning the parish will have to repair roads, etc. out of their own budgets, strained as they already are.

So, what can be done? What is our role in all of this?
While impact of the funding cuts remains to be seen, we as a community can step up and restore that funding through private donations. If it is important to our community, then we should be willing to put our own money into it.

Buy local whenever you can. Yes, it is sometimes inconvenient.
Yes, it can cost a little more. Yes, our sales tax rate is higher than other places. However, this is our home, and we want to see it prosper. That isn’t going to happen if we continue to send our dollars out of town.

And finally, get involved. We are quick to call our elected officials when our electric bill is too high, or our roads have potholes. And of course, many have “after the fact” advice on how government should spend our money.

I am reminded of something the late Rep. Everett Doerge told me about lobbyists and constituents. “David, sometimes lobbyists are the only folks we hear from on the issues. They provide good information most of the time. However, I value what my constituents say far more than any lobbyist. My phone just doesn’t ring very often from them.”

Sadly, that is still the truth, at all levels of government. It is made worse by the constant rants on social media. Too much is spewed about things, rather than concerted efforts to fix things. Social media comments are often ignored for this very reason.

Decisions have consequences.

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