Johnson City Press Sunday, April 20, 2014
Opinion

Carter County tax increase, methadone clinic and more in Wednesday's Forum

July 11th, 2013 8:27 am by Staff Report

If Carter County commissioners pass the proposed property tax increase of 23.5 cents, Carter County will be the second-highest out of eight counties with a tax rate of $2.385. Unicoi County is currently the highest with a property tax of $2.68 and Sullivan County now has a tax rate of $2.33.
Compare our county to other counties and see what they are getting for their tax dollars. My question is: “What are we getting for our tax dollars here in Carter County?”
There is a lack of infrastructure development to attract new businesses and jobs. There are bridges and roads that are in desperate need of repair. There is a shortage of patrol officers to protect the citizens of Carter County. There is a lack of adequate code enforcement to clean up our county.
Carter County schools are under-performing academically. And to beat all, county officials took away our free trash day (which taxpayers have already paid for).
Many of our commissioners are now in favor of raising our taxes and they will have nothing to show for it. Citizens need to pay attention to what is happening here. Why are our taxes being raised? Is it because we have elected commissioners who lack the ability to manage our county’s budget in the best interest of taxpayers?
Can hardworking families spend more than they make? That’s how you end up in bankruptcy. It appears this is where we are heading as existing jobs and business will flee Carter County to neighboring counties with lower property tax rates.
Like Commissioner Lawrence Hodge said, taxpayers can’t keep giving and giving and ask for nothing in return.
JIM DABBONDANZA
Butler
Affordable Care Act
Jennie Young did her homework in her recent letter about the Affordable Care Act. Obamacare is indeed copied after the Massachusetts (Romneycare), which was designed by the same actuary and was initially proposed by President Nixon in 1972, when it was supported by the Heritage Foundation (a conservative think tank).
While the law is not perfect, there are some good points including no pre-existing conditions, no surcharges unless you smoke, children stay on parents’ policy until age 26, and if you purchase a plan through the exchange online with private carriers, your premium is limited to 9.5 percent of income with immediate tax credits. The act also closes the prescription drug Part D “doughnut hole” and pays for the expansion of Medicaid. Tennessee did not take the federal dollars to cover this expansion, which will cost the state’s economy an estimated $1 billion annually and 9,000 medical care jobs.
As for mandatory coverage, this is not true. You do, however, have to pay an additional tax if your income is above a certain level and if your premium to income is below 8 percent of your income. The additional tax is $95 annually, beginning in 2014 and increases to $695 by 2020.
The bad part of the law would seem to me to be the employer mandatory coverage if you have more than 50 employees. This is complicated and expensive for employers. However, it is estimated that only 2 percent of employers are affected by this. This has been delayed for one year and hopefully will be repealed.
If you want to learn about the details of the law and not rely on television reporters or partisan politicians, go to www.healthcare.gov. This will give you the information you need about the law and the exchanges that will open in October.
WILLIAM PRENDERGAST
Elizabethton
Methadone clinic
As thousands of families in the region continue to feel the effects of opiate addiction, the state of Tennessee’s recent decision to deny a certificate of need for a methadone clinic in Johnson City clearly shows the backwards thinking of our elected and appointed officials. The decision also indicates how little understanding truly exists regarding the medical science connected to dependence/addiction on prescription pain medications and heroin.
Prior to congressional passage of the Harrison Narcotics Act of 1914, personal use of opiates, cocaine, marijuana and other mood altering drugs was completely legal. While addiction certainly existed during this time, the problem of drug-related crimes was something that simply did not exist. Most individuals in our society falsely believe addicts commit crimes because of their dependence or outright addiction to their drug of choice. This simply is not the case.
Regardless of the substance, the problem of drug-related crime has been exacerbated by the passage of local, state and federal laws that punish individuals for possession and/or usage of controlled substances. Such laws have created a black market for narcotics that artificially inflates the cost of prescription and so-called “street drugs” like methamphetamine and cocaine. Whenever a black market exists for any goods or services, the inevitable outcome is a cost increase.
If drugs themselves were to blame for the problem of crime, our society would see cigarette smokers and consumers of alcoholic beverages — two of the most harmful and addictive substances available in today’s legal marketplace — engaged in abhorrent and illegal behavior to obtain their “fix.” Since tobacco and alcohol are legal, however, the cost is regulated by legal, free-market forces.
If the public and elected officials would allow a methadone clinic to operate in the Tri-Cities, our communities would see a significant reduction in the amount of drug-related crimes. When an addict receives proper care and treatment through the use of methadone, many are able to lead normal, productive lives.
JASON R. MULLINS
Kingsport
Crazy criminal cases
I read in the Johnson City Press that a local man got 20 years in prison for making meth. I also read that some lady in Church Hill got one year in prison for throwing her dead newborn in the trash, but will probably only have to serve 30 percent of the sentence.
The next thing I read floored me. Four years ago, a 17-year-old guy killed his mother in Johnson City, had sex with her corpse and with the aid of his mom’s boyfriend, threw her body in a trash can. Even though the evidence proved he did the unthinkable, our judicial system let this scum walk.
I am all for locking up the zombie meth users in our area, but considering the other two cases were looked at as minor offenses, I’d say the meth head got a raw deal. What a crazy world we live in.
CHRIS BATTEL
Gray

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