Voters realize services vital to grow communities

Published 11:03 am Thursday, August 4, 2016

Thankfully, the old adage that “you get what you pay for” isn’t lost on citizens here in southwest Michigan.

It was encouraging to see that, in Tuesday’s primary election, voters approved several property tax levies. Although most were renewals and varied from community to community, these measures were for critical services — ambulance, 911, law enforcement, taking care of our senior citizens, transportation — that would have suffered without dedicated funding.

We live in an era where some people are adamant that all taxes are “bad” and far too many take the approach to just say “no,” regardless of the merits of the proposal.

Here in Cass and Berrien counties, these millages were for services that improve the quality of life for all residents.

We have to be willing to invest in our communities in order to have the services that we want. Too many people say, “Well, I don’t use the ambulance service,” or “The police should use the money they have.”

That is a short-sighted approach, to say the least.

Communities can only grow when the most basic services are in place. Businesses don’t want to relocate or grow where things are not progressing. People look for other places to raise their families.

I understand taking on additional expense can be difficult for many people, especially senior citizens who are on fixed incomes. But, in reality, we are all on fixed incomes! Unless you can give yourself a raise, each and every one of us have to find ways to live within our means.

Paying for millages, which are part of your property taxes and can be spread out throughout the year, really should be looked at just like other utilities. No one would argue that having electric, water or gas are things that can be lived without. Having great schools, adequate ambulance service, a strong drug enforcement and critical senior services are just as vital.

None of us want to pay more taxes but, the reality is, we all talk about wanting to live in better communities. It was uplifting to see Cass and Berrien voters actually let their actions speak louder than any words.


Michael Caldwell is the publisher of Leader Publications LLC. He can be reached at (269) 687-7700 or by email at