Normally, meetings of the Wayne County Commission are quiet with very few in attendance.
That changed Thursday when a group of people attended and voiced their concerns about the 4 percent increase in property taxes imposed by the commissioners.
This is a good step for the public.
The county needs some serious scrutiny.
We began the process over a month ago with some public information requests. What we received in return was anything but complete.
For instance, we requested information regarding travel by county employees in 2011. We wanted to know which employees traveled, where they went and what it cost the taxpayers.
What we got back said they didn't have that information.
There are only two possibilities here.
One, they simply don't want people to know how much they spent on travel or they have the worst bookkeeping system on the planet.
We think it is the former.
What's the secret here?
Money was spent on travel. That money came from the taxpayers. That means the taxpayers should know where the money was spent.
We've heard stories from other people who have said they tried to get information from the commissioners and basically got the run around.
This is troubling.
We confess to not yet following up on this issue and others, but profess we will make a concerted effort right after the first of the year to get this information and provide it to the taxpayers.
Page 2 of 3 - The commissioners are saying losses in state and federal funding are forcing them to raise taxes.
Some of that may be true, but are they really looking closely at their own budget?
We know the county is spending hundreds of thousands of dollars on a recycling program which loses money year after year.
We've heard that a waste company has offered to take over the county's recycling program and even the building. This would likely result in a profit for the county when it comes to recycling.
But there is no movement on the part of the commissioners as far as we can tell.
That single issue is enough to raise a red flag.
Why would the county not entertain such an idea?
We realize it would cost some jobs but it's reasonable to assume that if private enterprise took it over, there would be a need for jobs, so it's possible those working for the county would be able to work for the private company.
We know for a fact this has been discussed with the commissioners but has simply been rejected.
There are many more issues which need to be examined, as well.
It is positive that citizens are taking an interest in this issue. The county government is very large but much of the spending seems to be a mystery.
Just look at how much is spent on courthouse security. Do we really need that much security? We are paying sheriff's deputies to man the metal detector at the front door but the threat level doesn't seem to be that high.
Page 3 of 3 - This is an issue which needs examined by commissioners.
The bottom line here is the county needs to become accountable and it starts at the top. That top is the three commissioners and nobody else — no matter their position or their perceived role.
The commissioners are in charge of the budget and they are responsible.
That's why they are elected and that's why they need to be held accountable.