EDITORIAL: It’s time to be heard

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Texans love to voice their displeasure with taxes. It is essentially a requirement to be a resident. Either you were born believing taxes were awful, or you moved to Texas to escape places where taxes were more awful.

Along with that loathing of taxes is the suspicion that the public servants hired and elected to spend those tax dollars are not doing so the right way. We think they spend too much, spend it the wrong way, waste it, and there are even those who like to pull out the old, “they’re just enriching themselves” card.

The reality is, when governments, especially on the local level, set out to craft and establish a budget, there is much hand-wringing, figuring, refiguring, adding here, cutting there to make it work. It is a balanced budget when it is done.

Much of it boils down to priorities and expectations. Those are set by elected officials, assisted by public employees, hopefully based on the wishes of voters. But what if voters didn’t show up to make those wishes known?

Now is the time. There is ample opportunity for taxpayers to get involved in the budget process. There are workshops and public hearings posted for the public to attend. These meetings are an opportunity to learn how it all works, where the money goes, where it is required to go by law, and how far the money goes.

There’s no denying what we pay in taxes increases some each year. Most often in Liberty Hill, that’s from increasing property values, although sometimes it is from higher rates. Occasionally, it is from both. But providing the services everyone demands never gets less expensive. I can be as efficient as possible, but it is almost never cheaper from one year to the next. So, does the government cut or reduce services, or try and stretch things as far as possible and minimize the increasing financial burden?

It may be very American to hate taxes and complain about them, but before we take to social media or anywhere else to complain, let’s take the concerns and questions to the heart of the debate and talk it through at a public hearing.

Tax rate hearings are the least attended meetings that taxing entities hold every year. Each elected official and public employee who goes through this exercise year after year will verify this. Some even joke about it, knowing that somewhere down the line complaints will come just the same.

As a taxpayer you have the right to complain, but doing so responsibly, in a constructive way, at the time designated to change such policies is certainly a better approach than lighting Facebook on fire in six months because that’s when someone made time to get angry.

Over the next two weeks, the City of Liberty Hill, Williamson County ESD No. 4, Williamson County and Liberty Hill ISD will be holding multiple public hearings on the tax rates for the upcoming fiscal year.

All of these taxing entities exist to serve the public. If you believe they can better serve the public, you should be at those hearings explaining why.

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