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Wednesday, November 29th, 2017


A Thanksgiving Column Wanted: Turkey, Dead Or Alive

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The boy named the turkey “Jack.”  He grew fond of the bird, led it around by a leash through the Rose Garden behind the Whitehouse and fed it corn kernels, not realizing that he was, in effect, fattening Jack for the slaughter.   

Today we celebrate Thanksgiving Day.  President Abraham Lincoln established this perpetual memorial in 1863.  The War Between the States was raging but Lincoln declared that the final Thursday in November would be set aside for giving thanks to God, to be thankful for what we have and what we don’t have.

As the story goes, the thanksgiving turkey arrived at the Whitehouse and the President’s son, Tad, 10 years old, befriended it.  But when the butchers came for the bird Tad burst through the doors of the room where his father was meeting with his cabinet and cried, “Father! they’re going to butcher Jack!”

Honest Abe rose to his six-feet-four-inches of height, tugged the lapels of his waistcoat, and said, “I’d like to help you, son, but you’re too young to vote.”  Later at dinner he said to his wife, Mary, “Pass the gravy, Ma, and what’s the score of the Bears-Lions game?”

Tad went to bed without supper that night while Jack self-medicated with more corn kernels.

The Book of Sirach offers praise to the Lord saying: “And now, bless the God of all, who everywhere has worked great wonders, who fosters the people’s growth and deals with us according to his mercy.”

Thanksgiving Day became a federal holiday when, during the height of the U.S. Civil War, President Lincoln proclaimed it a national day of “Thanksgiving and praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the Heavens.”

Today the traditional holiday turkey is thankful for having received its pardon. While nearly 50 million turkeys are served up every Thanksgiving (I prefer it deep fried), two lucky gobblers are given stays of execution.  In 1989 President George H.W. Bush remarked that the turkey appeared “understandably nervous,” but added, “Let me assure you, that these fine turkeys will not end up on anyone’s dinner table.  They are granted a presidential pardon right now.”  The birds, so dumb they didn’t know they were turkeys were very grateful, but what about the 50 million minus two that didn’t get off?

President Lincoln wasn’t heartless.  Listening to the boy’s pleas to spare Jack from his culinary fate, the Great Emancipator granted a reprieve and freed it, establishing the tradition.

“The year that is drawing to its close has been filled with the blessings of fruitful fields and healthful skies. They are gracious gifts from the Most High God, who, while dealing with us in anger for our sins, hath nevertheless remembered mercy,” Lincoln aforesaid.

That was a stretch.  The American Civil War suffered more causalities, 625,000—than all other conflicts engaged in by the United States to this day.  Even in the midst of the war our homeland had the presence of mind to be grateful for the blessings she received as one nation under God.

Freedom is exercised in relationships between human beings and the Creator.  Every person, created in the image of God, has the natural right to be recognized as a free and responsible being.  The right to exercise freedom, especially in moral and religious matters, is an inalienable requirement of the dignity of the human person.  Those rights must be recognized and protected by civil authorities within the limits of the common good and the public order.   

Give to Caesar what belongs to Caesar and to God what belongs to God.

Gratitude works both ways.  Grateful for what we have, and grateful for what we don’t have.  The biopsy turned out to be benign.  They have passed away but are no longer suffering.  We made the mortgage payment this month.  Sure, my commute is a half-an hour longer but thank God I found another job.

We live as one nation under God; the forebears knew this and they abandoned our country to Providence.  Revisionist historians pervert that truth but the true story, His-Story, cannot be denied because God can’t lie and God can’t die.  Enjoy the football and the pumpkin pie but go easy on the bird.    

Village Tax Concerns Looking Sunnier

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There is “more sunshine this week than there was last week” Village Manager David Trent said about the Village’s current tax situation.

In March of this year, the Village Council adopted a resolution increasing the current operating millage 2.444 mils. At the time, council members indicated that 2 mils would go directly into the equipment fund with the remainder going into the general fund. The millage increase would generate an additional $66,947.30 of tax revenue annually.

The new tax was part of the adopted budget and added to taxpayer’s summer taxes. As promised, the council used the additional revenues to replace an aging snow plow that used an old stop sign as a floorboard. The Village took delivery of a new snowplow on October 13th of this year. The truck was paid for with a downpayment of $60,000 and financed the remainder over the next 6 years. Additional revenues will be included in the capital improvment plan to replace additional aging equipment as funds become available.

On November 1st, Jackson County dropped a bombshell on the Council and new Village Manager. Under the Headlee Amendment, any increase to an established millage cannot be raised above the Headlee rollback, thus making the tax increase improper. The Village was facing a loss of already collected revenues in an already fragile budget.

Under Headlee, the property tax revenue limitation requires that if the assessed value of a local tax unit’s total taxable property increases by more than the inflation rate, the maximum property tax millage must be reduced so that the local unit’s total taxable property yields the same gross revenue, adjusted for inflation. Basically, as home values increased, the taxation rate decreases. This is done looking at the total state equalized value (SEV) change from one year to the next.

The Council authorized Trent to hire attorney Gerald Fisher to research options for the council. Fisher determined that the correct course of action for the Village should have been to implement a new millage for General Highway Fund, which is allowed under the General Law Village Act of 1895.  He was able to cite case law that showed that Headlee Amendment, adopted in 1978, did not prohibit new millages allowed by statue, only existing taxes.

Working with the county and the state, the Village Council is hopeful that they will be able to file an amended L-4029 with the County. All local tax millages must be approved by the Jackson County  Board of Commissioners.

The Council was able to show, through their budget hearing, public meetings and meeting minutes that their intent was always to add millages for the purpose of General  Highway Fund, which includes equipment used to maintain the roads. Additionally the Village’s general fund includes contributions to road funding within the Village.

At Tuesday nights regularly scheduled meeting, the Village Council adopted a resolution “clarifying intent”. “This is Step 1 in the process” said Trent. The Village adopted the resolution levying up to 5 mils, higher than the original 2.444 mils, however the Village intends to only collect the original 2.444 mils, so taxpayers will not see an increase in their taxes because of the new resolution. “This just allows us to make modifications in the future to account for the Headlee Amendment rollback if necessary or if we have a disaster like we saw in Fraser (the giant sink hole from a failed sewer) said Trent.

It next goes to the Ways and Means committee of Jackson County next month.