When I sit down to plan my budget at home, I start with the things I cannot avoid paying. The light bill, the phone bill, the water bill, the mortgage – and of course my taxes.
It’s the same with sitting down to figure out the budget for city and county government. They start out with a blank sheet of paper – but it fills up fast.
Some of these costs are the same as at home – the light bill, the phone bill and the water bill.
Then there are debts they have to pay because they have already signed on to pay them. They have to pay all the people that work for them fixing roads and streets and answering phones, issuing permits and recording deeds.
And on top of all this is a cost for crime.
Now we don’t have a line item for crime at the Ingram household, but let me assure you that cost is in there, whether I list it or not.
Somebody always pays
I’ve always felt good people understand the need to pay taxes for good schools, good roads, garbage disposal, water and sewer.
But one of the costs we all hate paying for is crime.
I’m not talking about pay for police, deputies and jailers. Those men and women earn their paycheck. I don’t want that job – do you?
I’m talking about the cost of vandalism, drugs, theft and out-right rebellious living.
That price can be steep, too.
When someone tears up a public facility, sells dope, throws down litter, turns their dog loose or just doesn’t obey traffic laws there is a real dollar cost.
No, you won’t get a bill for the stop sign that got run over on my street recently. I recently had a businesswoman say she can count on losing 13-percent of her inventory to theft and she has to pass that cost on to her loyal and honest customers. And you can’t put a price on what drugs cost our precious children.
I’ll not even touch on what crime costs our schools in lost classroom time, enforcement and simple maintenance and repair.
These costs will only continue to climb unless we make some real, tangible changes.
There are some small things we can all do to whittle a little off the top. We can keep our eyes open and make a phone call when we see or hear about somebody breaking the law. We can report drug abuse, lock our doors, add exterior lighting and drive responsibly.
But it’s going to take a lot more than that.
I believe we have the tools at our disposal. The strongest tool we have is the family. We need to support the family unit – ours and others. We need to spend time with our children, talking to them, teaching them to make good choices. We need to model good choices in front of them and talk to them about the consequences of wrong choices.
Yes, our police and county deputies need to enforce the law and our judges need to back them up, but we as voters and citizens need to show our elected officials and our neighbors we are serious about stamping out crime.
Another tool we have here in Chickasaw County is a strong and diverse social structure that doesn’t cost a single tax dollar – our churches. What better resource to help us build good moral road maps for our children? What better resource to help us turn drug abusers around? What better resource to help us rebuild broken families?
And we need to be part of that resource, too. We need to offer our time, our talents and our tithe.
Each of us can make some contribution to whittle down the high cost of crime in Chickasaw County. Each of us needs to give a little to help cut the high cost of crime.
Floyd Ingram is Managing Editor/News for the Chickasaw Journal. He can be contacted at 456-3771 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.