Editorial: All must pay for watershed cleanup effort

Published 12:00 am Thursday, May 17, 2001

Government redistributes wealth by nature.

Thursday, May 17, 2001

Government redistributes wealth by nature. It taxes broadly, only to use the proceeds for programs that not everyone is going to use. That’s true of the proposed Shell Rock River Watershed special taxing district, as much as any government program.

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Some townships are saying they don’t want to pay because they don’t think they’ll get any benefits from watershed cleanup. But in this case, as with any taxation, the question is not what they get in return; rather, it is the common good of the area being taxed.

Clearly, the common good is best attained if the watershed is cleaned up. That’s why hundreds of people have spent thousands of hours in the last few years to get the cleanup process this far.

Shell Rock, Nunda and Freeman townships are wary of the taxing district, which the county must establish as part of its agreement to keep the state Board of Water and Soil Resources (BWSR) out of the local watershed issue. It’s understandable that they don’t want any more taxation, but if the county starts making exceptions for those townships, where will it end? Will others complain that they don’t get as much benefit as others, so they should pay less?

Let’s take it further. Will people who don’t drive on county roads refuse to pay the portion of their taxes that funds the highway department? Will those who don’t recycle demand a refund for the taxes that pay for the recycling program? That would be ridiculous. A-la-carte government doesn’t work.

It’s clear that any township or city in the watershed should pay its share to fund the watershed cleanup. The amount of money is bound to be small when spread so thinly, so we hope the townships in question can find a way to swallow their objections.