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An answer to annexation

By By Craig Ziemba / guest columnist
Sept. 29, 2002
Craig Ziemba is a pilot who lives in Meridian.
Tempers are flaring over the proposed annexation of yet more of the county to the city of Meridian. Most people who oppose annexation do so for two very good reasons: they don't want to pay higher taxes, and they see no need for city services.
Residents of new developments in the county already paid for their own roads, curbs and sewers, and they resent the city now trying to move in after the fact and against their will.
Piecemeal annexation of the county by the city is a flawed process that is bound to create hard feelings. Disliking taxes and distrusting government is a valuable part of our American psyche that keeps governmental power in check, and watching some of our local representatives in action is enough to make anyone skeptical of government.
Many of our local politicians seem only interested in perpetuating their good old boy network and fighting petty battles over who is responsible for what and who wronged whom.
It's our own fault. We elected them. One thing is certain: If we keep on doing what we've always done, we'll keep on getting what we've always got.
Perhaps the simplest way to reform our county and city governments is to do away with both in their present forms altogether. Why pay for two independent bureaucracies when one would suffice?
Currently, Lauderdale County has two school systems with two school boards and two superintendents. We have sheriff's deputies and a sheriff, city police officers and a chief of police, county patrolmen and constables, each having their own associated costs.
Our taxes support two different governing bodies, the county board of supervisors and the city council with their respective departments and staffs. Both work out of offices a few blocks apart in downtown Meridian.
Why are we paying two governments to do the work of one, especially since there are only 78,000 people in the entire county?
Wouldn't it just make sense to do away with one or the other and have the entire county under a single representative government headed by a Chief Executive Officer with one board? By abolishing one whole layer of government, the overall tax burden on all residents in the county could be reduced substantially and everyone could benefit from the savings.
I live way out in the county and am in no danger of being annexed by the city of Meridian, but I would be willing to be a part of a single form of countywide government that would provide flexible services for rural residents (for example, trash, water and sewer fees paid only by those who use them).
It's in the best interest of all of us who live in the county to support the revitalization of downtown and help stop the decay of the nucleus of Meridian from the inside out.
Most county residents work, shop and worship in Meridian. The renovations and renewed investment downtown will give us all a better place to live and will eventually attract industries that will give our children the option of working in Meridian instead of having to move out of state to find career opportunities.
The forms of our city and county governments are neither divinely inspired nor angelically administered. As population centers and demographics change, we need to be progressive enough to rein in our government and make it suit the needs of the governed.
Correction
A paragraph in last week's Craig Ziemba column, "Public piety," should have read as follows:
Many campaign commercials are cleverly designed to make Christians comfortable voting for members of a political party that is pro-abortion, pro-homosexual and anti-family. I have a big problem with that.

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