Attending the May 12 budget hearing, I noticed that the crowd was much less than last year.
Was this because folks are tired of showing up, testifying and feeling like they aren't heard? Was it because the commissioners have succeeded in lulling everyone into thinking things are OK by handing out one-time funding to the school system and non-profits? Was it because citizens have decided not to spend their time making their case to our current elected officials, and instead are working toward making changes in June and November?
Perhaps it was some of all of these and more. What was clear was that most folks testifying agreed that public safety, public education and maintaining infrastructure are important to them and important to others who are thinking of moving here to live or to set up a business.
I heard people say that their $20 tax rebate could be better spent maintaining county facilities and services. I heard a seventh grader mention the dedication of many of the teachers in his school. I heard parents speak to the amount of time their PTA spends doing fundraisers and asking for donations to buy school equipment.
I heard concerns that public school families incur considerable out of pocket expenses for field trips, sports equipment and musical instruments, and yet are not allowed to tap the $400,000 and soon likely to be $800,000 reserved for a small segment of our population.
Others expressed concern about our sheriff deputies' low salaries, and yet others about the lack of attention to infrastructure.
I had planned to speak solely about the commissioners' inconsistencies regarding their funding of non-profits and the higher costs incurred by putting off repairs and maintenance to water and sewer lines, roads and ball fields. But after hearing a parent say that she was glad her son was graduating this year and felt for those with younger children, I had to concur. I testified about one success story among what I know to be many from past school years.
My son, a 2010 alumni of Winters Mill, is set to graduate from college this May, as are many of his friends and former classmates. Some are headed to graduate school, others to well paying jobs, others to a year of service. How many will come back to Carroll? It remains to be seen. It may hinge on this year's elections.