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A problem that’s not going away

Butler County needs roads. Butler County wants roads. Butler County doesn’t want to pay for roads. Is that pretty much it?

According to the surveys mailed out by the Butler County Commission in November, that is it. At least for the citizens of the county who would rather complain about the crippling condition of our county’s road infrastructure, while at the same time failing to see where, why, and how money comes into the equation. It’s almost like the child who expects a parent to write a check for everything, as if that slender, slip of paper somehow represents a never-ending supply of riches. The county has the trucks. It has the employees. It has the time. “Why can’t they repair a road? What does money have to do with it? Just get out there and fix it!”

But perhaps we’ve come to expect the same from our local and state government as we have from our federal government. “Bailout” and “too big to fail” were the catchphrases of 2009, thus the United States Congress saw fit to drag this country deeper into debt with an $825 billion stimulus package designed to hide the stench of our country’s economy. Robbing Peter to pay Paul, so to speak. The national debt has now surpassed $12 trillion, meaning each American’s share is approximately $40,000.

Luckily, this kind of excessive spending hasn’t carried over into the state or local level. Say what you want about Alabama in comparison to other states, but at least the Legislator is required by law to pass a balanced general fund budget. If you want an example of spending left unchecked, cast your eyes towards the west at California and its financial problems. Or, closer to home, Jefferson County.

Still, none of this solves the problem at hand: the county’s roads. It’s past time for rural counties, such as Butler, to pester their legislators into securing more of the pie from the state’s gasoline tax. While it’s true cities like Birmingham, Huntsville and Mobile have higher traffic, other counties in Alabama should garner a better deal then the current 70-30 split.

The county commission is also going to have to consider putting a tax issue to vote, either in the form of an ad valorem or sales tax increase. Considering the negative responses on the surveys returned that might be a worthless endeavor to pursue.

It is one, however, we are going to have to pursue.