RICH JAMES: Lake County tax opponents are vocal minority

2013-06-16T00:00:00Z RICH JAMES: Lake County tax opponents are vocal minorityBy Rich James nwitimes.com
June 16, 2013 12:00 am  • 

Those who opposed the adoption of a 1.5 percent income tax for Lake County residents just don’t get it.

They are, in large part, what’s wrong with Lake County. They want it all. They just don’t want to have to pay for it.

Lake County is a big place. Last I checked, it was the second largest in the state.

The county has all the responsibilities faced by any metropolitan region, but the people here compare their taxes to counties with corn, soybeans, cows and dirt roads.

Lake County government and the 17 municipalities in the county have a plethora of responsibilities — and they all come with a huge price tag.

Lake County doesn’t need 17 municipalities. That represents a very costly duplication of services and personnel.

And it would be a safe bet to say that those most opposed to an income tax would be the first to block the doors to their town hall if someone suggested merging some towns and cities.

And those tax opponents would be the same ones to holler the loudest because the county didn’t have the money to prevent their yards, fields and roads from flooding.

And those tax opponents would stage the biggest protest if crime increased because government no longer could afford to maintain current levels of law enforcement.

And the same folks would complain even louder if they had to take a number when they called police.

And you would be right in saying those opposed to an income tax would be rather boisterous when their streets fell into disrepair and a snowplow was nowhere to be seen when winter turned ugly.

And the anti-tax people would have plenty to say if the social services for troubled kids, teens and adults all of a sudden dried up.

No, life in Lake County isn’t like Little House on the Prairie.

Government in Lake County has responsibilities on every level. And virtually all of them don’t come cheaply.

Providing all of the above mentioned services is not a waste of taxpayers’ dollars but about a quality of life.

And quality of life is a key ingredient in attracting business and industry to an area.

I look at the greater Chicago area and marvel at what life presents. None of it came without a price — especially the roads and commuter rail that made it all possible.

There are some who say those who voted for the income tax will be in jeopardy when they stand for re-election.

No. The vast majority knew this was a necessary thing. The minority — as is the case with any issue — just happened to come across the loudest.

It’s time the naysayers grew up and moved on.

Rich James has been writing about state and local government and politics for more than 30 years. Email him at rjames@219.com. The opinions are the writer’s.

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