One Coast is a great slogan. Easy to remember. Fits on a bumper sticker. Or a plaque.
In the real world, though, we are not there yet. Granted, the idea that the entire Coast, a place of cities small and large, communities urban and rural, can speak with one voice is a lofty goal. Getting there will not be easy.
Our officials, who have to lead us there, have to try harder if we’re to get there at all.
Once again, though, our leaders have chosen to turn to the courts, pitting government against government in the rather expensive legal arena.
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In this latest installment, the Pascagoula-Gautier School District passed a budget that called for a tax increase. The Pascagoula City Council, which has final say over the increase, then voted it down. Gautier city officials complained after they passed a tax increase of their own that they knew nothing of the school district’s plans.
Now, the school district sued to require Pascagoula to allow the tax increase.
This probably won’t be the last time a school district asks for a tax increase either.
The state Legislature for years has failed to fund education at the level prescribed by its own laws. Pascagoula-Gautier Superintendent Wayne Rodolfich said last year that the district has been shorted about $25 million over those underfunded years.
And, as state funding slows, local governments will have to choose between ferreting a lot of waste, cutting services and raising taxes.
We believe all these players can agree that education is important. We believe they can agree that an educated workforce is crucial to attracting the business and industry that will boost the local economy and create jobs. And, they’ve seen the numbers, so they should be able to agree education is expensive.
We see no reason for them to spend money on legal fees to settle this dispute.
They should be able to sit down together and settle their differences and serve the people they were elected to serve. Too many times, though, elected officials along the Coast have turned to courts to help decide who’ll pick up our trash, or who’ll promote tourism in Hancock County.
One Coast doesn’t mean all officials need to be in lockstep on every issue. But we expect them to work out their differences without costing taxpayers additional money.
Seems every time governments turn to the courts, there are conflicts of interest between key players that require additional attorneys to be hired and an additional bill for the taxpayers.
We elected these officials to solve problems, not take one another to court. That system already is flooded with legal disputes and criminals, it doesn’t need the additional load of refereeing disputes between elected officials.
The editorial represents the views of the Sun Herald editorial board. Opinions of columnists and cartoonists are their own.