Letter: Vote no for sales tax increase

To the editor:

Wake up city and county residents!

letter_logoThe Rockingham City Council adopted a Parks and Recreation Plan Feb. 8, 2005. It’s amazing that of the 5,400 surveys sent out by the city that none made it to the doorways of residents living along Old Aberdeen Road. There was no mention as to how many surveys were actually mailed to out-of-town residents versus in-town residents. Actual respondents to the survey were 72 residents within the city and 42 respondents from outside the city. It is equally amazing that only 118 surveys were returned which, according to the survey, is approximately a 2.2 percent rate of return.

The survey goes on to say that 332 people were represented by the 188 returned surveys. I suppose kids, cats, dogs and parakeets? How many non-voting people were included in this published number is anyone’s guess. Now granted, there have been many economic changes that would have an adverse effect on this survey taken nine years ago. It’s apparent to me that citizen input was extremely light. It’s especially important to remember that fact!

One of the reasons for the proposal given by the survey is that, “people are prepared and willing to pay more to live close to natural park areas.” Emphasis on “natural park.” Common sense says, “people are not willing to pay more taxes to live close to amusement parks and/or sports complexes! Ask the people who live around Civitan Park about how they feel about ball games, with lights, PA systems and the like going on after 10 p.m. and longer, for up to nine months out of the year. The city of Rockingham’s manager stated on May 26, 2006, “the city could potentially be hosting tournaments at its fields nine out of 12 months.” Isn’t it ironic that five of the Rockingham City Council members live within one-eighth of a ┬ámile from each other, in a housing area that has no outside influence; unless, of course, the Rockingham City Council decides to build the proposed golf course bordering their residential development (Parks and Recreation Improvement plan, Feb. 8, 2005).

With no more input than a few (2.2 percent) selected citizens the Rockingham City Council persuaded the Cole Foundation to give them money to purchase the land bordering Old Aberdeen Road and Richmond Road Extension. The economic climate changed drastically and no more money has been available from the federal government to complete the project. Tying the economic hopes for industry in Richmond County to a ballpark is downright insulting. It is insulting for a vote to be placed on the ballot by our county commissioners based on the fact that; if you are for more jobs and economic development, then vote for the city of Rockingham’s Parks and Recreation quarter-cent special tax. Voters are not usually willing to pay more taxes to live close to amusement parks or sports complexes!

In several economic development studies, rural areas (Richmond County) of North Carolina are not likely to gain any of the mentioned types of businesses in the city’s survey and furthermore, are more suited to “distribution warehouses, light to medium, heavy manufacturing,” with an emphasis on distribution. Exactly the types of business Richmond County has had success with.

If Richmond County elected officials will address a sports complex close in proximity to Rockingham and Hamlet, large enough to accommodate all surrounding county towns, and within an area of low density population, and within a five- to seven-minute drive of eating establishments in Rockingham and Hamlet, you can have my vote for a sports complex! Until then, I vote no!

Anything short of this is a failure to include the entire county. Being shortsighted is forever, when you are proposing a project of this magnitude.

I’m also for a half-cent sales tax increase specifically for Richmond County economic development!

John R. Dawkins
Rockingham

Filed in: Opinion

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