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Give Uncle Sam a dollar; maybe he’ll give you two

As always, some objected and some agreed when the Harrison County Commissioners approved some big spending of riverboat funds last week. The long-debated ladder truck for fighting fires was approved at a cost of $381,000, which does not include equipping the vehicle. Also approved was $3.5 million to be given to the schools with the intention of decreasing the debt service rate, thereby saving taxpayers more money.
Everything about the riverboat seems to spark controversy. Many county residents voted to sink the boat before it ever existed. Then debate ensued over the conditions under which Caesars Indiana would receive a gaming license. Now that the Bridgeport complex is in full swing, there is some question over whether money from Caesars is being used wisely or appropriately.
Throw into the mix the commissioners’ responsibility for divvying up millions in revenue sharing dollars, and it’s amazing every time a portion of the coins dropped into slot machines find their way to some useful community project.
Argue the evils of gambling all you want, but on top of all the other millions of dollars in benefits the county has received, we now have a fire truck with a 75-foot ladder on order and a plan to use part of the money from Caesars to lower most residents’ property taxes. You have to squint pretty hard, probably even close your eyes, to not see the good in that.
The spay-neuter clinic made its second swing through Corydon on Monday. Some would argue that the clinic is a band-aid treatment for a problem that only an animal shelter can correct indefinitely. Others would argue that subsidizing services at the clinic with county funds is poor use of tax dollars.
Once again, despite conflicting opinions on the validity of the expense, a $10,000 allocation from property taxes has been put to work and now maybe there won’t be as many animals dumped on roadsides or veterinarians’ doorsteps for a while.
Every time money is spent to increase the public health, safety and education or otherwise increase our quality of life in Harrison County, plenty of folks rise up to question the wisdom behind the expenditure, but, hey, that’s part of living in a democracy.
Unfortunately, many of those who make use of our freedom of speech, press and assembly are often upset to see tax dollars spent no matter what the cause. Most everyone hates to pay taxes. Why? They would rather spend their money how they see fit.
If all taxes were removed, it would only be fair to remove everything taxes have paid for. We would have no roads. The children would have to go to day care or private school. Both options could prove costly, or the kids could just stay home.
The lack of education for those who couldn’t afford it would surely damage their ultimate happiness, not to mention their annual earnings upon entering the work force. But, because we abolished the welfare state when we eliminated taxes and all taxes pay for, poverty would be passed on like an inheritance of destitution.
The truth is that Harrison Countians receive far more than they pay for with their contributions to utilities, public services and infrastructure. The evidence is the constant infusions of money that come to the county in the form of gaming revenue and grants.
Last week, Palmyra received an Indiana Dept. of Commerce grant for $487,000 to upgrade its sewers. Blue River Services got a $472,000 DOC grant for the renovation of one of its facilities in Palmyra. Blue River Services provides a service for many, if not all, of our impaired citizens. BRS provides jobs and job training to those persons who might otherwise be sitting at home watching television everyday. Instead, most become useful, contributing and much happier residents. BRS also provides transportation, day care and a host of other services.
In the spring, Laconia received a DOC grant of $260,000 for its sewage treatment project. A “gift” from the state coffers. This project, if successful (and there’s no reason to think it won’t be), could have far-reaching importance to small communities throughout Harrison County, because it could provide a solution to handling the discharge of waste without polluting our ground and surface water.
Keep these things in mind, and remember that all those roads and bridges, all these schools for our children, and the many things our governments provide are a real bargain. And as Harrison County residents, we especially have a lot for which we can be grateful.