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Taxes, spending: Citizens want to hold the line

Some 100 citizens from various walks of life gathered at Pike Feed and Seed Saturday, Jan. 31, for a common purpose ‘“ to stay abreast of local government spending and hold the line on taxes. ’I think everyone here un-derstands the condition our country, state and nation is in. Our hope is that by working with the commissioners and school board we can make things better in Pike County,’ said moderator Sonny Gwyn, a business owner and member of the citizens’ grassroots organization Citizens for Account-ability in Government. He said taxpayers could see their taxes double in the next five years if local officials do not get a handle on spending. Gwyn said the school budget increased 61% from 2004 to 2008. Since 2003, the commission budget has gone from $6 million to $9 million, a 39% increase. ’I don’t think anyone’s sal-ary has gone up that much,’ he said. ‘The bottom line is spen-ding has gone up and we can’t tell you exactly why, yet.’ Margie Trammell said when citizens talk about reducing taxes, officials counter about maintaining or increasing services. ’I don’t want an increase in the level of services in the county,’ she said. That in-cludes paving roads and county water. ’I don’t know of any services that have increased,’ said David Hughes. Cherry Thomas of Concord said she is a strong advocate of getting behind the school board, alleging outrageous salaries are being paid in some cases. ’Every department in the state is expected to make cuts,’ she said. Former board member Ron-ald Adams said it approved a tax relief measure for senior citizens over age 65 in early 2008. ’It fell by the wayside,’ he said. Commissioners approved it and it was to head to the legislature. ‘It hasn’t gotten there, yet.’ He heard elder tax relief was changed and could reflect in-come based exemptions like most that already exist. ’We’ve got one in the making that covers all senior citizens but they’re trying to water it down because they want more money, too,’ he said. ‘We need to get behind this and push it as it was passed. If passed as income based, most of your people won’t see it.’ Gwyn said ‘some pretty good strides’ were made lately, but commissioners are talking about a $27 million government complex and animal control. There could be increases in both budgets. ’There’s devastation to your bank account, I assure you,’ he said. Thomas said, ‘Everybody needs to cut, starting with the sheriff to everybody in Pike.’ ’We have got to look at this. There are no harder times that will hit us than now,’ Adams said. For information e-mail

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