What if you threw a party and no one came?
It seems to be happening a lot lately, as citizen involvement in the government process seems to be waning.
Not exactly a party, but expensive.
Most recently, Gardner held a town hall meeting seeking residents’ input on the city’s budget, but only about six residents attended. They were outnumbered by city staff.
And although not a meeting, less than 27 percent of registered voters participated in the $29.7 million Gardner Edgerton school bond that was approved last week.
Of about 12,600 ballots mailed, only about 3,300 were returned. About 1,945 voted “yes.” That’s a small percentage of people making a very large monetary commitment for those who failed to register, and also those who did register but failed to return the mail- in ballot.
In November, voters will again be asked their opinions when the Johnson County Commissioners put a $182 million proposal for a new court house before voters.
We hear a lot of complaints about government’s purported inefficiencies, high salaries and out-of-touch programs. And, on some points, we believe the complaints are valid.
We’re disillusioned to see Gardner pay nearly $8 thousand last month for dues to the League of Kansas Muncipalities, and use our tax money to lobby for policies that may not be in the best interests of individuals – for example repealing the property tax lid and requiring a public vote for tax increases in excess of inflation.
Gardner’s not alone paying dues to lobby against residents; there’s a myriad of tax-funded lobbying agencies such as the LKM, Kansas Association of Counties and Kansas Association of School Boards. Some cities and counties use tax money to put lobbyists on the payroll.
The problem is, most citizens don’t have the time, money or clout needed to effect policy.
That’s why it is disappointing when residents do have a chance to provide input – at a public meeting or thru the ballot box – and they choose to not participate.
We understand time is limited.
We understand meetings can be boring.
We can understand being discouraged with government efficiencies.
We don’t understand becoming totally disengaged from the process.
But if being disengaged is your choice, don’t complain about high taxes, inefficiencies and high salaries.
Just reach in your pocket and pay the piper.