The tax dollar debate

Published 7:00 am Saturday, April 23, 2016

Use of tax dollars by local or federal agencies is routinely debated. Two examples come to mind at the present, the FBI’s decision to pay more than $1.3 million to hack into an iPhone, and the city council and county’s decision to kick in $100,000 each to have Highland Parkway finished.
Let’s start with the iPhone hack. Since Apple was reluctant to provide the FBI with a method to hack their cellular device, the agency took matters into their own hands and hired an unnamed third party to do the work.
So what did the agency get out of that?
Many news agencies, including ABC, report nothing has been found in the month since the phone was hacked. But they do have one thing, the ability to now access every iPhone 5c running iOS9, devices used by millions of people.
To me, that was a waste of money, unless they plan to access the millions of iPhones, then they may get their money’s worth.
As for the city and county kicking in $100,000 a piece to finish Highland Parkway, I’m split on the matter.
On one hand the road was quite convenient in the short time it was open. With traffic along U.S. 11 being as it is today, and with expected widening planned, having another option to get to Interstate 59 would be great.
Additionally, once development along Highland Parkway resumes, the tax base in the city will increase in the form of sales and ad valorem tax.
The county will get some ad valorem tax out of it as well, but not sales tax.
But what if development stagnates?
Then the city and county will be stuck footing the bill to finish a road that the developer was expected to do for up to five years, according to information presented at the council meeting.
Only time will tell if the gamble from either of these situations pays off.

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