VWSD should follow city, county on taxes

Published 11:19 pm Saturday, September 22, 2012

We would like to commend city and county leaders for doing what few across the state have been able to do in such a down economy — avoid a tax increase.

While larger and more economically viable counties such as Madison and Rankin are raising taxes, Warren County found a way to live within its means.

The City of Vicksburg also avoided a tax hike, despite increased personnel costs and myriad other increased expenses.

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For that they deserve our praise and respect.

The same can’t be said for the Vicksburg Warren School District, however, and we urge Superintendent Dr. Elizabeth Swinford and the school board to find a way to follow the lead of the city and the county in the future.

The district added a 1.21-mill increase to raise an additional $29.2 million. That translates into a $12.10 increase on tax bills for every $100,000 home or business.

At a time when everyone is hurting, increasing taxes on residents and businesses shouldn’t be an option. There is always fat to cut in county and municipal budgets and the school district should be able to find places to trim as well.

Just last week, state economists warned that while the rest of the country has been in recession for some time, Mississippi slipped into recession only during the second quarter of this year.

Because of the lackluster economy, little growth is expected and little if any increases in funds.

Like so many families and small businesses, government has to find a way to stretch budgets to avoid tax hikes while providing the basic services residents have come to expect.

It’s not an easy task, but no one ever said being an elected official would be easy.

The community at large will always judge the performance of its leaders, who have no greater responsibility than managing taxpayers’ dollars.

It’s time for Swinford and school board officials to take heed. If the city and county can do it, so can the school district.