I’ve done a fair share of whittling over the years, even though I was never very good at it. For those of you who weren’t raised in the country, whittling (I believe the correct spelling and pronunciation is whittlin’), involves taking out your pocket knife, picking up a stick or a piece of wood, and shaving away on that stick or piece of wood until it resembles something else. Often my work resembled a smaller stick or a smaller piece of wood, although occasionally I might end up with a lump that might pass for a deformed creature of some type.
My main problem was, whenever I set out to whittle something, it always took on a shape of its own, and even though I knew what I was trying to do, it just never ended up like I had envisioned it.
That seems to happen a lot whenever our legislators set us up with a new tax. Back in 1987, the Indiana General Assembly created the County Economic Development Income Tax (CEDIT), which county councils could adopt if they so desired. The rules for the use of the money collected by this tax were spelled out in the Indiana Code.
In simple terms, CEDIT funds could be used for “economic development projects” or for “capitol construction of most publicly owned facilities.” Whether or not tax money should be used on privately owned projects is still a point of contention even among many non-libertarians, but that’s the law for now, so that’s how its going to be until we get the law changed.
Of course, much like my whittlin’, things don’t always work out exactly like the lawmakers planned. In my county, Wayne, the funds were used to buy an $8000.00 desk for the president of the Economic Development Commission, that used $75,000.00 of the funds just to find him. A county to the south of us used $125,000.00 of CEDIT funds to pay for housing prisoners in other county jails.
A couple of years ago, my home town, Hagerstown, spent several thousand CEDIT dollars on the Legacy Project, which was purported to help the people of Hagerstown achieve their dreams. It was probably a nice project, but maybe a little lacking in economic development field.
This week, the Hagerstown Town Council spent $5000.00 of the CEDIT funds to pay the salary of Communities in Schools site coordinator for the Nettle Creek School Corporation, who’s job is “connecting adults with students through such programs as adult mentorships and tours of local businesses.”
I pretty much gave up whittlin’ because things seldom turned out like I had planned. I wish we could convince our legislators to stop passing most of these laws for the same reason.