Illegitimi Non Carborundum: Taxation Without Representation

As I was watching the news last week, I saw Lamar County Supervisor, Phillip Carlise, defending his district against the City of Hattiesburg's proposed attempt to annex the area. As I watched him vehemently defend his constituents or the money they represent, my mind went back to December, 2014, when this very board member addressed Mayor Winston's plea for assistance by saying
"Before we ask our tax payers… to fork over and to give money for an effort, we have to make sure as the board of supervisors that the city has done all they could within itself to try to move forward"
I'm sure Carlisle is well liked in his district but I wonder why the Lamar County Board of Supervisors are not willing to fight for Lumberton? Carlisle said "before we ask our taxpayers". That statement bothers me because the residents of Lumberton are taxpayers. As a matter of fact, for decades, the City of Lumberton was a major contributor to the tax rolls of Lamar County. I guess we're now dealing with revisionist history but let me remind you that before the boom along the Hwy. 98 corridor, Lumberton was thriving. Before families relocated to Oak Grove and Lake Serene, Lumberton was contributing to the surplus Lamar County used to help develop those districts. I don't know if they forgot but they better check their tax records. Lumberton has always paid taxes and Lamar County is still collecting taxes from every tag, plot of land and business in our city limits. So when Carlisle inferred that supporting Lumberton in a time of need would be an afront to the taxpayers of Lamar County but for some reason, he didn't think Lumberton's taxes mattered.

Let's travel back in time. Turtle Creek Mall opened March 29, 2006. Soon afterwards, there was the great migration West. As more businesses opened along Hwy. 98, the communities and schools grew exponentially in Lamar County; namely Oak Grove and Lake Serene. As the this region of Lamar County grew, the City of Lumberton was beginning to lose industry. The major employer for Lumberton, Cooper Industries, closed October, 2010. However, for decades, industry flourished in Lumberton. There was Cooper Industries, formerly named McGraw-Edison and before that it was called Waggoner's. It was always a stable place of employment along with other industries in the Industrial Park. Lumberton had several grocery stores, clothing stores, resturants and most service companis like Entex and Bell South had offices in Lumberton. Long before I could remember, Lumberton was known as the pecan capital of the South thanks to Bass Pecan. As a matter of fact, Lumberton was so productive that we were given the largest post office in the area because of all the shipments from Bass Pecan. Lumberton had two saw mills (Joe Miles and Sean Mill), Lumberton Manufacturing furniture company, Movie Star and Southern Meats. All this industry provided plenty of jobs as well as taxes for the City of Lumberton and Lamar County.

After stepping back and reviewing what was said, it doesn't seem like we have much representation on the city or county level. December of 2014, Winston said

"Lumberton could be a city without a cash flow within the next few weeks."
But, somehow, they're still spending money like they have a money printing machine. They paid thousands to get Merlene Wall trained and then approved over $3,000 in payments to have the company that trained Merlene to do the work she was trained to do. The board continues to hire workers for seasonal positions while refusing to allow the person collecting fines to work full time. Despite being deliquent on an MDA loan, this board is marching full steam ahead to financially criple this city by trying to secure another $625,000 loan in order to get a sewer grant that will not completely affress the sewer woes of this city or the annexed areas. Looking back, I wonder if Winston's plan was to get rid of the police department because another supervisor, Mike Backstrom, noted that he didn't think the Mayor and Board of Alderpersons didn't do all they could do to help Lumberton before seeking help from the Lamar County Board of Supervisors and he was right. At the meeting, it was revealed that the supervisors advised Winston that the tax rate (millege) would have to be increased to cover the budget shortfalls. Since Winston and his major supporters own the majority of land in Lumberton, that wasn't an option for him but I can't dolely blame Winston because Lumberton is a code charter municipality and the bozed members have the final say, not the mayor. Instead of making a wise decision for the city, the dimwitted board members opted to increase water bills again, a good move for WSOM but it does nothing for the general fund other than giving them an account to borrow from. Lumberton is in bad shape and unfortunately, we don't have local or county representation that's willing to make the tough decisions needed so Lumberton can start to rebuild.

I must say, Warren Byrd will step in when he can but there's only so much he can do when he's not supported ny the other supervisors and when the local leaders don't attempt to help themselves. I didn't like Carlisle's statement but I can see where he was coming from. Well, sort of. Lamar County had to raise their taxes and I'm sure that's mot an easy decision but Lumberton refused to do the same to maintain essential services like police protection and then the mayor goes to the County knowing he didn't attempt to make the tough devisions because his loyalty is already sold. Winston felt it was better to beg than to stand like a man and make tough, unpopular decisions. If he can't make the tough decisions as mayor how in the taxation without representation is he going to make the tough decisions on the county level. The answer is simple. He can't. Just a few months ago, he rushed to have the board spot zone some land that was supposed to provide jobs for Lumberton. Well, the land was rezoned but the business that was in such a rush to open has yet to break ground but the owner of the land can now sell the land at a higher price thanks to the spot zoning change. Personally, I think that was the purpose anyway. Well, this is an election year and I'm sure there will be some marginal interest in Lumberton because our votes are needed. I think I'm going to host a political forum so we can find out why no one is fighting for Lumberton. I will kerp you posted.


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