To the editor:
That good ol’ representative government stuff. It is working oh so well here in the County of Johnson. Firstly, the state legislature creates a way to siphon off tax funds and allow the local governments to design their own “slush funds” around it, and they call it the TIF funds.
The politicians all seem to have a different definition of how the fund is to work and who is to manage it. “Oh, it’s going to be so wonderful, we will spin off the responsibility to a nonelected committee, and that will keep that representative government stuff out of the way.”
If you do just a bit of research about the concept of TIF (tax-increment financing) you may find it is rife with corruption and a constant source of bickering among most small government entities. Not to be excluded from these arguments, the cities of Greenwood and Franklin are up to their ears with the struggles of how to spend their newfound revenue streams.
Recently, the Franklin Redevelopment Commission has moved to spend half a million tax dollars to buy computers for the Franklin community school system. Well, it appears to me that all the mayor and the city council have done here in effect is participate in a shell game. The name of the commission seems to float around between the Franklin Redevel-
opment Commission and the Franklin Development Corp., but the result is still the same, an independent group of unelected officials are spending the money as they see fit, even after they have been disagreed with by their governing oversight body (the Franklin City Council).
Then it is further complicated by the fact that the two Franklin City Council members are on this appointed committee. They have admitted that there was negative feedback, and “we decided to do it anyway,” regardless of the opinion of the majority of their fellow city council members. Another city council member stated that they (the council) “do not want to oust the commission.” Of course, they can’t oust their own.
So here we are again, the mayor of Franklin and the Franklin City Council continues to fund an “out-of-control” body that continues to spend money as they see fit regardless of the majority of their oversight body. A shell game or what? The money is no longer under the middle shell, but it may be under the one on the left? Greenwood is just beginning to see the infighting as they start down this nightmarish path of TIF.
The school computers are probably not what we should be spending the monies on; however, we have probably prevented the school system from receiving this much or more through this continually expanding slush fund. You may also note the other entities that are being affected by this siphoning off of funds are beginning to take notice and request monies (e.g. libraries.)
This won’t stop until we have totally rebuilt the funding mechanisms for our society. The existing taxing system is being totally undermined and circumvented leaving the decisions to a few totally incapable unelected people.
Ultimately there is no accountability to the taxpayers whatsoever about how these funds are being spent. When are we going to fire them all and take back control of our town and county? If we can’t manage our small cities and counties, our society is going on the books as a failed experiment.
Larry G. Cheek