Stepping up to the plate

Published 5:47 pm Friday, February 17, 2017

At last weekend’s Washington City Council retreat, a long-debated issue once again came to the forefront: should the county help fund city services if county residents use them?

City data has shown that more county residents use city services, such as the Hildred T. Moore Aquatic Center, Grace Martin Harwell Senior Center and Brown Library, more than those who live within city limits. Is this a bad thing? Certainly not. For many people, Washington is the only place where they have access to these types of services.

However, when it comes to operations, there is always a price tag, and someone has to pay it. City residents pay taxes to keep these services in operation, but county residents, of course, do not pay city taxes.

Although city officials requested around $1.3 million from the county last year to help with these expenses, the county responded with less than $50,000. There is a clear disconnect between what the city needs and what the county is willing to give.

County officials are not the “bad guys,” though. They have plenty of projects to fund on their plate every year. However, this is about stepping up to the plate and shouldering a rightful share of the burden.

It’s highly unlikely that the county can take on such a drastic budget change as $1.3 million, but $50,000 doesn’t cut it. County government should at least be willing to meet somewhere in the middle. This should be a team effort.

The county needs to take responsibility for the services its residents utilize.

Without more funding help, residents may see these locations forced to close in the future. The way to ensure they remain in operation is to pay an appropriate share of the cost.

It’s only fair.