Let’s talk to the taxman

Published 5:55 am Saturday, October 28, 2017

By Bobby Tingle


When Senator Ted Cruz campaigned to be become the Republican nominee for President of the United States, he held a town hall meeting where a good friend of mine spoke to him personally. My friend hung around, after the meeting ended, while Cruz spoke to voters privately.

My good friend lives in San Antonio. He reported, to his circle of friends, information about his conversation on social media.

What are the chances of talking to a candidate, seeking the office of President of the United States, privately? Probably slim.

Congressman Brian Babin and Congressman Randy Weber are elected officials who routinely cast votes on issues before the United States Congress. Their decisions, whether we agree with them or not, will impact our lives.

What are the chances of talking to either face to face? Probably slim.

These three men, and countless other elected officials I assume, are perfectly willing to speak privately with voters, but the sheer volume of constituents they serve make the probability slim.

Much more accessible are five men who serve Orange County residents. These elected officials meet routinely in the Orange County Administration building. Their meetings are public. You can address the court with personal concerns. Commissioners are generally available before and after meetings to discuss topics privately. Due to the nature of their office and the issues they consider they may be limited in their ability to disclose information or state opinions, but they are generally accessible.

In fact, often these men are about the town, shopping, eating and living life just like the taxpayers they represent.

If voters approve a hospital district for Orange County several items will be set. They include as currently proposed; the boundaries of the district which will be all of Orange County, a maximum property tax rate of 18 per hundred dollar valuation to fund the district and a five member board of directors to manage the district. Orange County voters will elect permanent directors. The five men who now serve as County Commissioners will appoint temporary directors to establish the board initially.

These five men are available to hear your concerns, before the election on December 19, 2017 and after the election. Your chances of making your opinion known are much greater with them than those who hold state or federal office.

Your opinion is important. Some have expressed their opinion to The Orange Leader in writing. If you pick up a copy of the October 25, 2017 edition of The Orange Leader and turn to page A5 you can read several.

One prevalent issue raised by those voicing their opinion is the addition of another level of government adding which will only increase the bureaucracy currently plaguing taxpayers.

State law requires a hospital district to assume responsibility for providing indigent care to those located within its boundaries. Currently, Orange County provides indigent care.

Orange county taxpayers kick in between $400,000 and $600,000 annually to fund indigent care. A hospital district will assume the responsibility, which could result in a zero-sum exchange if the hospital district spends no more than the amount taxpayers currently spend. This could be an example of transferring responsibility from an entity whose primary concern is not health care to an entity whose primary responsibility is health care at no extra cost.

It appears, on the surface, worth considering.

Writing off a hospital district because it is a taxing entity adding new layers of government and bureaucracy is easy to do. Often though when you dig into the details reality can improve perception.

Taxes and taxing entities will not go away. In fact, taxes and taxing entities are beneficial. We receive essential services such as fire and police protection, roads and schools from them.

Taxing entities providing health care already tax us at the state and national level. None of them will go away, nor will the need for providing health care. In fact, it is a big industry. At one time, our local hospital was one of the largest employers in the county.

Go to the next commissioners court meeting and ask your questions about a hospital district. It will be far better to make informed decisions rather than remain ignorant and potentially make ourselves beholden to the taxman who we will never have a chance to talk to.

Bobby Tingle is publisher of The Orange Leader. You can reach him at bobby.tingle@orangleleader.com.