Meetings offer quot;government by the peoplequot;

Published 12:00 am Saturday, February 5, 2000

On Thursday, Feb. 4, the Butler County Commission will host a second public forum for the purposes of discussing ideas for generating revenue for the county. Several ideas have already been generated, including but not limited to the proposed one-cent sales tax increase, but the commission still needs voter input before they can make the best decision for all parties involved.

We agree the county is in need of funds, and we also know they have to come from somewhere, but we are concerned that if the public does not voice its opinions to the commission a decision will be made that most of the voters in the county will not agree with.

Recently, several of the commissioners have indicated they would be interested in placing a proposal to raise court costs on the ballot in June. This would go a long way towards funding a new Butler County Jail, and to us

seems to be the most logical choice. The jail should be funded by those who use it, lawbreakers, and even though these increases would also be noticeable in traffic tickets and other minor, non-jailable infractions, it still seems to be the most effective way to generate the needed funds.

The second public forum held by the Butler County Commission on Thursday evening would have to be considered a success for several reasons. The commissioners wanted to hear what the public was thinking regarding ways to raise revenues for a new jail and economic development and, like the meeting before, there were many people standing along the walls of the large room at the YMCA ready to be heard.

These two public forums should be a symbol to every governmental agency of how our political process is suppose to work. The meetings allowed for people with a variety of opinions and ideas to be heard which will help the commissioners make the best possible decision for Butler County.

Electing our officials is not always enough to have a properly functioning representative-type government. It requires that the commissioner, council member, mayor, governor, senator or president stay in touch with their constituents and to realize how their vote will affect their lives.

The county commission has two pressing issues facing them: a jail that is inadequate and the highest unemployment rate in the state. They realize that the time has come to try to fix this situation and they should be commended for allowing the people a chance to offer their opinions, ideas and advise on the matter.

However, it takes more than an invitation to make a party. Those who have attended the meetings or who have called their commissioners personally to talk about how the decision would impact their lives also has proven that government can work the way it was intended. Only through active participation in our government can we expect the type of communities that we all desire.

The majority of those who called or spoke at the meetings have apparently had some impact on the commission. For instance, three of the five commissioners have expressed, in some form or fashion, that they would not support a one-cent sales tax increase at this time. The reason for Daniel Robinson's decision to dump the increase was based on a large number of phone calls from people who adamantly opposed it-further proof that the system can work.

When a decision has to be made the five commissioners that we have elected will do so, but it is comforting to know that they cared enough about their constituents to ask us about it and to let us take part in the process. These type of meetings should be a more constant happening in our community and across our nation. Thanks to the commission for allowing us a glimpse at a "government for the people, by the people."