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Citizens deserve better

A lot happened during the Tuesday, April 26, meeting of the Cumberland County Board of Supervisors.

There were lots of opinions to be shared on a variety of topics, from the then-proposed tax rates to how the rates would affect the county operational and school budgets.

It seems to us that the public hearing portion of the meeting should have been conducted much differently than District Two Supervisor and board Chairman Lloyd Banks handled it.

More than once, Banks asked Sheriff Darrell Hodges to escort speakers out of the courtroom during the hearing because he said they were veering off topic onto unrelated matters, such as the school budget.

He was wrong to do that. It’s one thing for a speaker to run over his time limit or become unruly. It’s another to speak during a hearing pertaining to a change that could affect services.

The hearing pertained to the advertised tax rates, which included a proposed 4-cent increase in the real estate tax.

The amount of taxes brought in directly effects county revenue. This revenue directly affects how much money supervisors can allocate toward services, such as the schools. Thus, the tax rates directly affect the operations of how much money schools, the sheriff’s office and other operations receive.

Those who wanted to speak about how the tax rates could affect the school budget should have been allowed to do so without threat of being removed by law enforcement or being asked to leave the podium.

It’s our hope that the Cumberland County Board of Supervisors, and its chairman, will realize the importance of an active citizenry and the freedom of speech.