Taxpayers right to know

Published 8:40 am Saturday, January 16, 2016

By Bobby Tingle

Soon, I will be a resident of Orange County residing within the City of Orange. As a resident I anticipate paying taxes. I will pay sales tax, property tax, school tax and I am sure a few others will take their perceived share.

Some taxes are paid with the house payment. Other taxes are deducted from the gross pay resulting in the net pay or take home pay. It’s a convenient system for busy taxpayers and tax collectors. In both cases, statements detailing transactions are available to the taxpayer.

Each taxpayer has a right to know how their tax dollars are spent. Each taxpayer also has the right to know their city and county government are acting responsibly.

Two recent news items bring taxpayer right to know to the forefront. I suspect in each case no harm is intended. But county and municipal officials should always maintain the rights of those they serve above all else.

Case one is the lack of a quorum for not one, but two County Commissioner Court meetings. County employee gas cards were rejected for nonpayment this month because commissioners serving this community did not conduct the business they took responsibility for. How many county workers were left idle on the clock with empty gas tanks in vehicles necessary for conducting their business? Taxpayers have the right to know that it will never happen again. Hopefully with that in mind, County Commissioners have scheduled a Public Workshop at 10 a.m. Tuesday to discuss the payment and processing of county bills. The workshop is open to the public and will be held in the administration building at 123 South 6th Street.

Case two is the recent decision of the City of Orange to sell City Hall. The city sent out a press release after taking that action. According to the release a search has been conducted since 2010. Did you know the city has been planning this move for six years? According to the release, by “happenstance”, the city learned of an opportunity to purchase a building officials feel will better serve their needs.  As a taxpayer are you comfortable with the city conducting your business by “happenstance”?

You have a right to know.