Letters (Nov. 4, 2009)

Leaders: We?re not made of money


It seems that every time I open the newspaper, one of our local government bodies is wanting more money. Either they raise the mill levy, raise our property taxes or raise utility fees.

Every time they say they need more money I have to reorganize my budget and try to figure out where to make cuts.

Most of us living in this area are not wealthy. Most of us learn not to spend what we do not have. Yet when it comes to local government bodies they refuse to work within their means. We all know once they raise taxes or rates they never lower them.

We are a small community yet they spend money like it is New York City. Some say it is for growth. What growth?

Government bodies are supposed to be acting in the best interest of the community. We are not made of money. Perhaps it is about time our local government realizes it.

Henry J. Slifer



?New neighbors? will impact the county


The citizens of Washington, Clay, Dickinson, Marion, Butler and Cowley counties have a new neighbor coming in the near future.

This new neighbor, Keystone/ TransCanada, is buying valuable easements in each county so as to connect a pipeline from Canada with the ultimate goal of Cushing, Okla., and perhaps on to the Texas Gulf Coast.

As new residents of six Kansas counties, Keystone/ TransCanada has the right to expect the use of roads for construction on the project and will continue to use county roads in monitoring and maintenance activities during the life of the pipeline.

They will also want the security and protection provided by law enforcement, fire protection, sanitation and all the other services that counties provide the residents.

There is a problem with our new neighbor: Keystone/Trans?Canada is claiming a property-tax exemption for at least 10 years. They say it was provided by a law, KSA 79-227, that was passed in 2006.

When this issue first came to light by action from the Dickin?son County Commission to contact State Sen. Jay Emler, who stated that while the law offered an exemption to pipelines, Keystone/TransCanada had not met the conditions imposed to claim the exemption.

This morning I spoke to Jim Prescott, a spokesman for Keystone/TransCanada, and he said they do indeed have an exemption from property taxes in the six counties.

Keystone/TransCanada is a private, for-profit foreign company that should have the ability to pay its fair share of property taxes. In an otherwise down economy, companies in the oil business have enjoyed record profits, and the future looks bright for their continuing success.

I think we can clear up this misunderstanding with some communication between the Kansas Legislature and Keystone/TransCanada. In the meantime, I propose the governmental units in the six counties place a moratorium on road-use agreements, conditional-use permits, eminent-domain proceedings, and any other pipeline-related permits until a satisfactory solution is found to the property-tax problem. I am a private citizen who wanted to make my opinion known to the main players in this issue, so I called them on the phone.

If anyone else would like to do so, Jim Prescott can be reached at 708-488-1881 by phone or 708-717-2110 cell, you can offer suggestions on why it is fair for his company to pay property taxes like the rest of us.

The law that exempted the property taxes had its birth in the Senate and House energy committees seemingly without much consultation with the counties affected.

To discuss this issue, one can call the chairman of the Kansas State Senate Energy Committee, Jay Emler, at 620-241-2910 or chairman of the Kansas House of Representatives Energy Committee, Carl Holmes, at 620-624-7361.

Harry E. Bennett


We should honor our veterans? sacrifices


Veterans Day is the day we celebrate and remember all who have fought, died and served to preserve this land of hopes and dreams.

Generations of men and women have demonstrated their willingness to put country before self. Generations of patriots who served for the greater good, who never sought glory or recognition for their own sake, but it comes nonetheless as we honor them today.

History has provided us with extraordinary examples of their selfless deeds. The good works they performed are a human accomplishment of rare wonder. Countless millions throughout the world have forever been the beneficiaries of their sacrifice, kindness and generosity.

The number of people who have benefited can hardly be calculated. Suffice it to say the number of erected memorials or speeches delivered doesn?t begin to represent the true scope of service our nations? veterans have provided.

Often, our freedoms are taken for granted and the cost involved of maintaining the liberties we enjoy as individuals and as a nation are frequently overlooked and sadly, go unacknowledged.

What veterans have contributed to the cause of liberty and the protection of American values and ideals are enduring because of the quiet, resilient strength of character and faultless loyalty, honor and integrity of those who have served as our defenders during peacetime and in war. It?s been said they ?have merely done their duty.?

By doing their duty, veterans were willing to step into harm?s way so others could also share the same gifts of liberty and prosperity that we enjoy.

Those shared traits, that willingness to serve, that ability to remain stalwart while placing one?s life on the line for the benefit of others, assumes even more prominence today, while our nation is at war.

As citizens, we share an equal sense of pride in the young service members who risk their lives for all of us every day. And more importantly, their incredible valor and their extraordinary sense of purpose should serve as examples to inspire all of us and give us the courage we need to face any challenge.

As grateful citizens, it is our responsibility to preserve the stories of our patriots and our nation?s struggles to remain free. Each of us can help in our own way to teach, celebrate and nurture the legacy of America?s veterans to pass on to our children and those that come after them.

As we work to foster an appreciation for what our veterans have provided us, chief among our prominent concerns should be that those who have borne the burden of preserving everything we cherish, as a nation shall be cared for.

English statesman George Canning wrote: ?When our perils are past, shall our gratitude sleep??

Our sense of gratitude cannot ?sleep.? We must be willing to pick them up when they are down, help point the way to a new life when they return home and carry them when they are weary. We, the many, have benefited from the sacrifice and service of the relative few, and it is our responsibility to ensure our veterans are cared for and tended to; it is a responsibility that we are obligated to fulfill.

To do anything less would only serve to dishonor and diminish our standing as the greatest nation on Earth.

So on Veterans Day offer a prayer of thanks to those who are currently serving and for the gallant souls of our departed comrades, friends and loved ones. Let us always remember the freedom they have earned for all of us, and let us always draw strength and inspiration from what they have done.

God bless America.

Bill Keith


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