Tuesday, 14 February 2017 16:26

Talk of the Towns for February 15, 2017

Written by  Staff

The lamp rubbed

It’s no secret to regular readers of these brief opinion pieces that Talkers have long lamented the pervasive nature of social media and its ability to embolden those who are not held to the standards of the real media (such as they seem to be anymore) to spread whatever exaggerations, non-truths and vitriol to their audience and, through the far-reaching tentacles of the misinformation super highway, to the eyes, hearts and minds of those far beyond. And when it can be done either anonymously by using aliases or screen names that render them safe from reprisal — or simply beyond the physical reach of an actual carbon-based organism — they can safely say whatever about whomever they want.

One Talker has even warned on multiple occasions that smart phones and anti-social media will eventually lead to the downfall of civilized society. It’s only human nature that when you can get away with something in one forum, those limits will be tested in another. Eventually, the bullying will make it beyond the keyboard and screen into the real world and, there, continued lack of adult supervision over a collective pre-adolescent temper tantrum will only encourage and intensify such behavior.

Now that the genie is out of the bottle, the American culture is left to settle this dispute on the streets. Don’t say we didn’t warn you.

Budget bedevilment

Between planning retreats and department head presentations highlighting wants, needs and musts for the months and years ahead, this is the time of year when Talkers get first-hand previews of the budget-balancing brawls local town boards are sure to wage between now and July 1, when the next fiscal year begins.

In every town, especially in a year with municipal elections looming in November, there will be the biennial bickering between those who reluctantly realize growth comes at a cost and those who believe — and make a vocal point of telling their constituents — that just as much can be achieved while spending less.

It’s a tradition at the local government level that electeds who have sworn to keep a firm grip on town expenses have to chose between accepting the realities of what things cost or, once again, trying to convince voters there is a way to adequately meet growing demand without increasing supply.

And the process this year begins fresh on the heels of sessions in Davidson, Cornelius and Huntersville highlighting a massive assortment of road, facility and municipal program expansions that not only involve significant current expenditures, but are often the first phase — or one of the mid-point steps — of a much bigger and subsequently more expensive undertaking.

And the two nagging consistencies commissioners can’t escape associated with all the planned and proposedprojects are that costs, as the economy improves and material and construction fees rise, are increasing and that delaying needed improvements — whether for philosophical reasons or political cover to avoid expenditures and potential tax hikes in an election year — achieves nothing more than kicking the can down the road until, they hope, fewer people are watching.

In the very near future — and probably now if you include all those in and around the three towns — the population of what we call north Mecklenburg will constitute the ninth largest town in the state. If you add Mooresville and all the lake region residents, it’s in the top five. And the bulk of the tax base is residential, which while generating accelerated demand for roads, infrastructure and municipal services, basically pays just enough in taxes to cover expenses.

That’s the sticky situation and, whether they like it or not, those in office and those who would like to be better know it. And whether they tell you or not when it comes time to argue budgets and ask for votes, it’s not likely to change.

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