Saturday, June 28, 2008

Editorial: "What is Happening in Hamilton?"

Something very bad is happening in Hamilton and the fear is that the disease may spread to the rest of the communities in Butler County if action isn't taken to contain the damage. Two stories from this week perfectly illustrate the nature of the illness that afflicts the city of Hamilton. The first deals with the suggestion that Hamilton adopt a "kilowatt hour" tax and the second recommends that Hamilton install red light cameras.

Butler County is doing pretty okay economically, which is a miracle considering the condition of our state's economy. Gas prices are high, but they aren't as high here as they are in neighboring counties. An energy crisis looms over the horizon and Republicans on city council want to impose a tax on energy consumption. Does that sound like a winner to you? An energy tax is absolutely the wrong move at this time and if Republicans do the deed, it will come back to bite them come election time. People remember it well when Republicans raise their taxes and their energy bills.

Red light cameras are not about safety. Study after study has shown that safety conditions do not improve due to the presence or absence of these cameras. Like the energy tax, installing these cameras is about raising revenue to feed a particularly nasty habit: a bloated budget. There is no safety concern at play here. There was a story out of Springfield, OH where one of these cameras cited a driver for making a legal right turn on red. Bottom line: It is not the city's responsibility to enforce traffic laws, but rather the police departments. That the city would consider deputizing cameras for this job is a joke; that the real reason they are even considering such a move is purely financial is a travesty.

The city of Hamilton ought to look at making spending cuts and reducing the tax burden in order to encourage commerce. That is a proven method of increasing revenue and a much better alternative to the various schemes and scams that city council is currently considering.

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