The Commerce News
October 20, 1999
Impact Fees Needed
To Help Cover Growth Costs
Taxpayers should be pleased to know that the Jackson County government
is considering the imposition of impact fees for new developments.
Commerce should do the same.
It is very difficult for governments to keep up with the demands
for the kind of growth this area is experiencing. Every time
a new development comes in, from a subdivision to a new industry,
there are effects on the rest of the county that ripple out like
little waves when a stone is tossed into a pond. New houses mean
new residents who use up part of the capacity of a government's
water and sewer service. The residents cause school enrollment
to increase, necessitating the construction of classrooms and
the hiring of additional teachers. Increased population strains
the use of public streets, county government facilities and police
and fire protection.
Impact fees give government a chance to recoup some of the expense
of providing that service. If a new industry needs 100,000 gallons
per day of sewage treatment, its impact fee might include part
or all of the cost of replacing that 100,000 gallons of treatment
capacity, for example, so when the treatment plant reaches capacity,
funds are available for expansion or to build another.
The courts have made the levying of impact fees very difficult.
Government must be able to document the justification for each
fee and must be able to show they are fairly applied. That should
not be a formidable obstacle.
Everyone sees the growth occurring here, but few of us fully
understand how it affects our governments. Yet the county school
system has two or more new schools already on the drawing board.
Commerce is expanding its water and sewage treatment plants,
county officials are struggling to build a courthouse annex,
and the county water system is constantly being requested to
serve new areas. Health inspectors, tax officials, the clerk
of courts and all law enforcement offices are busier every year,
all because of our population growth.
Jackson County needs a fair system of impact fees; it needs a
way to recover the expense it incurs when major developments
arrive. Those who move to Jackson County should pay up front
to help cover some of the costs they will generate for government
services as they move into our county. The point is not to shift
all growth-related costs to new arrivals, but to make those who
cause local costs to soar to help pick up the tab.
The Commerce News
October 20, 1999
October Is Time To Think About The Dangers
Of Domestic Violence
Are you aware that according to data gathered by the National
Coalition Against Domestic Violence, every year between two and
four million American women are battered by their husbands or
boyfriends? Domestic violence is the leading cause of serious
injury to American women, more common than muggings and car crashes
combined. Every day four women are killed by a husband or boyfriend.
Those of us not in the direct path of domestic violence may feel
unaffected by domestic violence. However, domestic violence contributes
to violence against all persons in our communities and neighborhoods,
because violence is often learned in the home. Our backyards
and neighborhoods would be safer for all of us if domestic violence
were not so common.
The financial cost of domestic violence (law enforcement, prosecution,
incarceration) is another burden that we all bear. Moreover,
we bear the financial burden of incarcerating violent offenders
who quite possibly learned violent behavior in the home. In short,
we all feel the cost of the destructive and deadly epidemic of
domestic violence -- emotionally and/or financially.
As a part of the effort to end domestic violence, the month of
October is designated as Domestic Violence Awareness Month: a
time for reflection, sadness and hope. The purposes of Domestic
Violence Awareness Month are threefold. It is a time for: mourning
those who died because of domestic violence, celebrating those
who have survived domestic violence, and honoring those who work
to end violence.
This October, please open your heart and mind to the seriousness
of domestic violence as both a threat to those directly involved,
and a societal tragedy in which we all share. Across the nation
domestic violence will be highlighted for what it is: an epidemic
which consumes precious lives and resources.
Joan V. Murray, Chief
Jefferson Parole Office
The Commerce News
October 20, 1999
They tell me in Jefferson that the Jackson
Herald got more than 300 e-mail letters in regard to the story
about the ghost-hunter divorce case. Most of the letters castigated
the newspaper and were based on an Internet posting that attributed
negative comments about ghost hunting to the newspaper instead
of to the people who made the comments.
No matter. We learned something here.
We learned that the Internet can be a wonderful source of irate
and nutty letters to the editor. Those are the kind we like,
of course, because those are the letters you readers like. While
a good discussion of a crucial social issue is helpful and appreciated,
a letter castigating the editor, his lineage and the newspaper
as a whole makes for more entertaining reading.
Entertainment is where most newspapers fall short. We don't have
comics in our local weekly newspapers and though we try sometimes,
we're not great at humor writing; the best we can do often comes
from the police incident reports in which people do bizarre things
while under the influence of intoxicants and bad genes. Our business
is news, but it is nice if we have something each week for people
to chuckle over.
It appears that the Internet is the answer. If local people don't
care enough about an issue to write, someone out in cyberspace
will be angry enough to dash off an electronic letter.
To do this though, something in the paper must offend a local
reader enough that he or she posts either the original story
or a totally biased report of it on a web site. That is easier
to do than we would have imagined.
What for us was a routinely screwy story about people hunting
for ghosts in a graveyard turned out to be of crucial interest
to hundreds of people for whom that kind of activity is High
Science or even religion. Someone local, irate over the comments
about ghost hunters in the story, summarized it on a web site.
The other ghost hunters, reading an inaccurate summarization
or assuming the newspaper had taken a position on ghost searching,
responded with wonderfully goofy and angry e-mail messages.
Thus we learn that the Internet serves two purposes of which
we were unaware. It provides us an opportunity to get entertaining
letters from people who have never read our papers and it provides
angry people who live their lives on-line a place to vent their
If our own readers are apathetic about really important items
like the special purpose local option sales tax, the referendum
to change our form of government or allegations of public officials
driving while intoxicated, it is still possible to incite an
e-mail riot of letters just by offending some minute but sensitive
portion of the general population. All that must occur is for
something offensive to anyone - say left-handed lawn bowlers,
for example - to appear in one of our papers where it makes one
local left-handed lawn bowler angry. That person posts a scathing
summary of the comment on the web site of the International Association
of Left-Handed Lawn Bowlers, and we can count on a flood of e-mail,
some of which will meet our entertainment standards.
Ain't technology grand!