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Our tax dollars go where?

 

tax-dollarI was pleased when I  read earlier this season that taxes in Clarksville would not be raised to cover a “grave” deficit in the city budget.

The threat of raising taxes precipitates anger. Be it sales, property or wheel tax increases, we get upset and resentful at even the discussion of such action. We are quite normal as we resist and resent tax increases. It’s our responsibility to make searing but polite inquiry into what our tax dollars are supporting.

The majority of Clarksville residents acknowledge the need and benefits derived from a fair tax system; it’s a way of providing and supporting services needed in a growing community. This is the system by which we provide public education, fire and police protection, and compensation for city, county, state and federal employees.

While standing in line waiting to vote I overheard a conversation by an elderly couple. They voiced their opinion to a friend that since they had no children in school it was unfair to tax them for public education. I speculate this venerable couple lived on a meager social security pension. On their fixed income, it was a terrorizing challenge covering their monthly expenses. They were really implying that they live in financial straits on a weekly basis.

Our tax dollars uare used to benefit the community and are a necessity. However, as taxpayers, we need to have boldness to shout when such dollars are misused.  This moment our tax dollars are channeled into religious activities: President Bush’s Faith Initiative Program is giving tens of thousands of dollars to faith bodies to promote their ministry.

In the Faith Initiative Program, funds are given to religious organizations and they are then exempted from crucial principals that come with such donations. For instance, in our neighboring state of Kentucky, a judge drew the line on public tax money being diverted to a religious institution. A Kentucky state court ruled that an $11 million appropriation for a Baptist university violated the state constitution. In striking down such aid, Franklin County Circuit Court Judge Roger Crittenden ruled, “There is no question that the appropriation… is a direct payment to a non-public religious school…this type of direct expenditure is not permitted by the constitution of Kentucky.”

Using tax dollars to support and promote religious principles is unwarranted. It’s grossly unfair to take taxes paid by Mormons, Methodists, Catholics and others to support any denominational institution, such as the above university.

In Clarksville one can raise up the objection to integrate a religious symbol, such as the manger scene at the Christmas on the Cumberland light display. It is unfair to integrate only Christian symbols in such a public attraction.

In the remainder of 2008, be vigilant, sensitive and educated on how our city is spending our tax dollars. In my eight years as a taxpayer in Clarksville, I seldom hear of misuse of tax dollars in promoting religion. With due oversight, this admirable trait will continue.


About Rev. Charles Moreland

    Rev. Charles Moreland

    Rev. Charles Moreland, retired, has lived in Clarksville for seven years and holds great pride in his adopted city and its people. His one objection in Tennessee is the Hall law of taxes on dividends and savings. Charles served in the U.S. Army Chaplaincy from 1966-1986, retiring to serve as a United Methodist pastor near Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri. He serves on the Boards of Directors for the ARP, Roxy Theater and MCDP. Though retired, he is a regular speaker at the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship. His five grandchildren, ages two to thirteen years, live in Evansville, Indiana. He is a veteran of the Vietnam War and served in Germany and Korea while on active duty.

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