EDITORIAL: Leave final call with taxpayers

Mar. 20, 2014 @ 05:00 AM

The Lee County Board of Commissioners has a tough task in deciding how to judiciously divide local funds among the many areas supported by taxpayers.

Other boards and agencies, too, must act on the public’s behalf; the Lee County Board of Education and the Central Carolina Community College Board of Trustees are just a couple of them.

The college trustees have asked county commissioners to consider placing a $23 million bond referendum on the election ballot. The commissioners don’t have to do that — but shouldn’t they?

Absolutely.

It’s been nearly a year since trustees first passed a resolution asking commissioners to put the bond referendum before the people. Inexplicably, there’s been no action until now, when this week commissioners decided they would address the issue at their April 21 meeting.

The college says that it has needs that have been well documented, including construction of a new health science building, expanding and renovating the veterinary medical technology program, improving the Dennis A. Wicker Civic Center, making various repairs to the Sanford campus and emergency services training center and renovating the small business incubator.

Obviously, the trustees are charged with furthering the interests of the college. The commissioners are advocates for the county and its taxpayers. That may mean these boards will sometimes come to an impasse on matters of money — but more often, there’s ample opportunity for win-win scenarios.

What should not be at dispute is the college’s value to our community. Thousands of students from Central Carolina and beyond have received outstanding instruction that has opened up high-quality employment opportunities.

From a birds-eye view, CCCC is among our most powerful economic engines — training students of high school age and above to excel in 21st century fields. The college has been a great partner in facilitating workforce development within our region.

While commissioners should have their say, a bond referendum that will go a long way in determining the college’s future should be decided by Lee County citizens.

We respect the work of the commissioners. We appreciate the fact that they are acting as watchdog for our tax dollars and being frugal with funding.

On the other hand, they should trust the constituents they serve in deciding the worthiness of this proposed bond referendum.

We encourage the commissioners to allow this measure to move forward and leave the final call with the people who will be paying the bill — the taxpayers.