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Ennis Daily News

Don’t let your voice be missed

Barely old enough to vote, 18-year-old Kevin Crouch was standing near U.S. Rep. Joe Barton’s Ennis office earlier this month protesting the proposed healthcare legislation.
The U.S. Congress is currently considering HR 3200, otherwise known as the healthcare bill. Although the House is out for the August recess, representatives are travelling their home districts gathering feedback from their constituents regarding the legislation.
Barton is no exception, and Crouch’s opinion is just one of many about healthcare in Ellis County. While Barton will probably vote against the legislation with or without Crouch’s display, he will no doubt feel like he has the best interests of his constituents at heart if and when he casts that vote.
This display gets the heart of democracy pumping. When citizens feel empowered to make their opinion known, it becomes evident our country is on a good path.
Locally, tax rates have been discussed for Ennis, Ellis County and Ennis ISD. Public hearings to discuss the proposed rates have been held by all three entities. These hearings give members of the tax base an opportunity to let the governing body know how they feel about the rates. The communication goes two ways, though. The public hearing also functions to let officials help the public understand why the proposed tax rate is what it is.
Whether or not members of the public approve of the tax rates, it is refreshing to see them acting proactively to take our democracy to its full potential. Now is the time to make your voice heard, because once these rates are set and have to be paid, it is too late.
EISD’s tax rate of $1.51 per $100 of property passed Tuesday evening, but not without debate.
The rate’s increase of three cents over last year’s rate spurred some animosity between public hearing attendees and members of the school board. A tax hike in this economic climate is hard to swallow, but the district wouldn’t have raised the rate unless it was absolutely necessary. In order to make a yearly payment on the debt from the 2008 Construction Bond, the rate was raised.
Even though the school board passed the proposed rate, public opinion is something they will keep in mind. The school district must continuously prove to the residents of Ennis that the new buildings and quality of education that comes with them were worth the tax hike.
Since the proposed tax rates for the city and the county are staying the same this year, public hearings held by both of these entities have been less controversial. At the public hearing held by the Ellis County Commissioners’ Court, only one resident stood up to speak. This man commended the court on its use of fiscal restraint in the budget, and its ability to keep the tax at last year’s rate. This is good for the court to hear, because its members will know they are on the right track.
The Ennis City Commission and the Ellis County Commissioners’ Court are both holding public hearings Sept. 8 to discuss the proposed tax rates (which are both staying the same as last year). If you want your voice heard, show up and speak up.
Peaceful protests and disagreements aren’t possible in many other countries. Fledgling “democracies” in other parts of the world might say they are listening to the citizens, but too often elections are rigged and protests turn violent.
Freedom of speech is one of the greatest rights we have as Americans. It enables me to perform my job, and lets the public give their input to elected officials. If you have something to say and the opportunity to say it, don’t let it go to waste.
Liz Crawford is a staff writer for the Ennis Daily News and covers education and county government. She can be reached at liz@ennisdailynews.com.

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Posted by on Aug 28 2009. Filed under News. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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