Editor:

When I first learned of the proposed new tax on vehicle tags to fund county school resource officers (SRO), my initial thought was that of, “We, in the county, are already paying sales taxes to support the cities and city schools since we have no alternative but to shop at businesses that are part of one of the Marshall County cities – why should we now be asked to fully shoulder an increase to the Marshall County government payroll?”

I have three points to make concerning county finances and hiring additional sherriff deputies/SROs to protect the county schools.

• Marshall County Schools Superintendent, Dr. Cindy Wigley, as reported in the June 26 Arab Tribune, has pointed out that virtually every new business in Marshall County ends up being within the city limits of one of the city school districts.

Those of us that live in the county end up paying sales tax to support a city (police, fire, etc.) and city schools for the most, if not all, of our shopping.

We had no vote for the city council members who decided the tax rate (taxation without representation), nor do we gain substantial benefit from these taxes since we don’t live within the city limits.

I believe this really must be addressed/corrected before any talk of a new tax on county residents is palatable. Hence, we are currently paying for city services and schools, while the Marshall County counterparts, particularly the volunteer fire departments and schools, appear to be struggling for funds.

This is the biggest issue I see in local Marshall County government and I don’t understand why it has been allowed to continue. Then to make matters worse, all the cities in the county decided they couldn’t live within their means and needed to add an extra 1 percent to their sales tax rates in recent months/years, and now appear to be “rolling in cash.”

I suggest this in lieu of the new tag tax: When a person residing in the county (outside city limits) pays their normal vehicle tag, issue that vehicle owner a “voucher” (one for each registered owner, so married couples each have a “voucher”), good for the one-year duration of their vehicle license tags, which they may present (perhaps in the form of a swipe card) at local stores proving they are a county resident and this “voucher” would then direct the businesses register software to tabulate/identify the local sales tax from this purchase (or a subset of it, such as for schools and/or fire department) to go to the county, not the city (where it should never have gone in the first place).

Incentivize the county resident/shopper to use this “voucher” by reducing his/her total sales tax to 8 percent or less (vs the 9 percent each city now charges). I believe this would provide more tax revenue to the county than the $20 tag fee, would not be a new tax in the eyes of the county resident shopper and they’d actually be saving 1 percent or more, and would remedy the broken tax system in Marshall County.

I believe this accounting should be technically feasible for many businesses and the county residents would have the freedom to support (or not) businesses as they choose.

Thus if certain businesses in certain cities implement it and others don’t, county residents could choose which businesses to support. I believe these sales taxes should have always gone to the county.

I believe this electronic “voucher” (or whatever it might be called) could also identify which volunteer fire department the county resident is covered by as well as which commission district they reside.

This would allow the county commission to allot a portion of the sales tax to help the VFDs and hopefully boost the repaving budget for each district as well. Everyone in the county wins.

This would correct the imbalance in finances between cities and county that never should have been allowed in the first place.

• It is starting to sound like this SRO issue is an excuse to create a new tax and grow the county government by hiring several new deputies (ref. “School Resource Officers in name only” letter to the editor, July 3, Arab Tribune).

Why do the proposed new SROs need patrol cars if they are SROs? Can’t they just report to the school for their workday and have a lockable office?

Mountains of debt that will never be repaid exist all over the world, including U.S. federal, state and local governments. There is a developing pension crisis in much of the country.

State and local governments have not funded their pensions adequately for the low interest rate era we are in. We are in the low interest rate era because central banks know their indebted countries can’t pay any higher rates.

States such as Illinois and New York are cutting back services and raising taxes in an effort to stay solvent as their state and local pension funds demand more to fulfill past retirement promises.

As a result, these areas are seeing an exodus of residents. Those who can see what lies ahead in the way of reduced property values and increased future taxes are wise to leave these and other states before they are trapped by declining real estate values and taxed into oblivion.

We in Marshall County are not immune to this happening here as I believe there is a recession already underway, just not yet officially acknowledged.

All this is a warning to be extremely conservative with new commitments, both in government and personally.

• As we’ve seen in the Parkland, Fla., school shooting, the hired deputy SRO, who was on the premises, cowered, didn’t enter the building where the attack was occurring and might as well not even been there. His being there was a false sense of security and a single point of failure.

Jesus tells us, in John 10:12-13, He who is a hired hand, and not a shepherd, who is not the owner of the sheep, sees the wolf coming, and leaves the sheep and flees, and the wolf snatches them and scatters them. He flees because he is a hired hand and is not concerned about the sheep.

In contrast, our teachers and administrators know their students as a shepherd knows his/her flock. The teachers are with students all day and will stand up to a threat to the best of their ability.

I believe having a handful of armed and properly trained teacher/administrator “shepherds” in each school building is a far better solution for a potential school shooting event.

I see an article on the “Alabama Sentry Program” that appears to allow school administrators to be trained and armed.

I understand this may not be feasible on each school campus, but I have several concerns with hiring a group of 14 SROs, placing them separately on different campuses and then being able to count on them solely for this level of protection.

With the local unemployment rate so low, are there enough quality/qualified potential SROs to hire?

The job appears to be boring and the pay relatively low, so the turnover rate may be quite high as this may turn out to be an entry level job for many in their law enforcement career.

Will the least capable “hired hand” SRO really be up to the task, should the unthinkable happen on the campus he/she is assigned to?

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